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"viTis mystica; 


^t %mt Vint. 

S John. 16, 6. 

« '•' "-t '.■' *.'/ 

-%'• ^ 4;^. 



€U Ctue Wintt 


' {Ascribed U S. Bernard.) 



Priest of the Diocese of Plymouth, 
















Having read, by order of his Lordship 
the Bishop of Plymouth, the book entitled 
" Vitis Mystica,'' translated by the Rev. 
W. R. Bernard Brownlow, I gladly certify 
that no care has been spared to make it a 
faithful and elegant version of one of the 
sweetest writings of the Middle Ages. There- 
fore I shall not only say "Nihil Obstat" 
to its being published, but I shall express 
the wish that the faithful may soon be 
refreshed and cheered by the vivifying fruit 
of the Mystic Vine. 

Canon Theologian. 



Bishop of Plymottth. 


yu/yiBf/r, J873. 


|T is scarcely necessary to recommend 
a treatise which has been ascribed 
to S, Bernard, and from which, under 
his name, the Church has selected her 
Lections for the Office of the Sacred Heart 
and of the Feast of the Five Wounds. Ma- 
billon's note is very brief: " JVbn est S. Ber- 
nqrdt, std cujusdam alterius auctoris piiy nee 
indoctiy nee ineiegantis, qui parvos sermones 
comcripsit ex num, 53/' A slight acquaintance 
with S. Bernard's writings is sufficient to con- 
vince the reader that he is not the author of 
the Vitis Mysiica, Even when they are most 
alike, there is a difference which is readily 
perceived, but not easy to put into words. 
In tender, devoted, personal love for Jesus 
Christ, it would be difficult to say where this 


author falls short of the Saint of Clairvaulx. 
His whole soul is full to overflowing with the 
love of Jesus; but we miss those daring 
flights with which S. Bernard soars upwards 
into the mysteries of the Godhead, and with 
supernatural power and wisdom defines 
sharply and boldly the operations of the 
Spirit of God. The author of the Vitis 
Mystica makes no starding discoveries, but, 
well versed in monastic theology, he applies 
his knowledge simply to bring home to his 
reader's heart that which he already knows 
with his intellect. Again, he resembles S. 
Bernard in his wonderful acquaintance with 
Holy Scripture. The words of the inspired 
writers fill his memory, and his thoughts find 
their expression easily and naturally in scrip- 
tural language. The references at the foot 
of the pages in this translation give but a very 
faint idea of the allusions to the sacred 
writings which perVade the whole work. If 
the reader will take the trouble to refer to 
the passages cited in those references, he will 
see that the whole context has been in the 
author's mind, although the actual quotation 
may have been but a very few words. There 


is a great power in words to affect the heart. 
The same idea expressed in different lan- 
guage by no means produces the same effect ; 
. and one of the secrets of S. Bernard's power 
is, that, more than any other writer that ever 
lived, he expresses divine ideas in language 
consecrated for the purpose by divine inspi- 
ration. ^ This power of sacred language has 
been long perceived by Protestant writers, 
who have endeavoured to make up for the 
loss of divine ideas by a laboured stringing 
together of scriptural phrases. The result 
has been only to bring the language of Scrip- 
ture into contempt. 

In his expositions of particular passages 
of Scripture, the author of this treatise appears 
particularly happy. He has not quite the 
power of S. Bernard, in making one wonder 
that one had not before seen the meaning of 
what, in his hands, appears so obvious ; and 
he is rather more far-fetched in some of his 
interpretations. Perhaps he differs most from 
S. Bernard in his use of symbols. S. Bernard 
breaks away from his symbol almost at once, 
and if he returns to it at all, it is only to pre- 
pare for another flight. Th^ ^MXixot ^l V\t\^ 


Mystica is by no means in bondage to his 
symbolism, but he is very careful to complete 
it in all its parts, and the whole treatise has 
evidently been finished with the utmost care. 

A very cursory reading of the following 
pages will confirm Mabillon's estimate of the 
piety, learning, and refinement of the author. 
His learning is by no means confined to 
Scripture and the Fathers, but he quotes 
Ovid, Juvenal, and Lucan with a readiness 
which implies a thorough acquaintance with 
the classics. His keen observation of nature, 
of the characteristics of plants and flowers, 
and his aptitude for seeing God reflected in 
His works, mark a cultured mind ; while the 
exquisite delicacy with which he applies his 
moral lessons, probing deeply, yet without 
irritating, the wounds of poor human nature, 
manifests the refinement of a tender, sympa- 
thetic, and yet true and faithful physician of 

Who this author was, must, I fear, remain 
a secret. Nothing appears to be known 
about him. From internal evidence, it may 
be inferred that he was a contemporary, or 
almost a contemporary, if not a disciple, of 


S. Bernard. He lived in a time of great 
religious fervour, not in a time of religious 
declension. It was the fervour of S. Stephen 
Harding and S. Bernard, not of S. Dominic 
and S. Francis. The deserts which he de- 
scribes as blossoming with monastic virtues 
(chap, xxiv.) were not the intellectual deserts 
which were reclaimed and cultivated by the 
Friars Preachers and the Friars Minor, but 
the pathless forests and wastes which were 
inhabited and made fruitful by the Cister- 
cian communities. The whole tone of the 
treatise breathes the contemplative rather 
than the active spirit; and the theology is 
cast in the mould of S. Anselm, and not in 
that of Albert the Great and S. Thomas. 
These considerations point to the middle of 
the twelfth century as the most probable date 
for the Vitis Mystica, Whether its author 
was a Cistercian or a Carthusian is not so 
clear. His minute examination of the lily 
and other flowers savours more of the Car- 
thusian, with his carefully-tended little gar- 
den, than of the ruder agricultural labours of 
the Cistercian. Perhaps, however, this cha- 
racteristic may not teUiuuc\v^\\!cvtT\^^'^>i\s\«i 


the author speaks from his own experience 
of hard work in the fields, and the difficulty 
of exactly proportioning to it the amount of 
food necessary to maintain bodily strength. 

I am not without fear that many persons 
will be repelled from this little work by its 
name. They will imagine that the Vitis 
Mystica must be a book of mystical theology, 
treating of extraordinary states of prayer, 
and abounding in such phrases as " tiie ob- 
scure night of the soul,** or the terms used by 
. S. John of the Cross to describe phases of 
the interior life which are altogether un- 
known to the ordinary run of pious Christians ; 
and they will be inclined to put aside the 
book as intended only for contemplatives. 
Now it was precisely because of the absence 
of mysticism in it that I was induced to 
translate the Vitis Mystica, There are 
among us, thank God! great numbers of 
persons, both in the world and in the active 
Orders, who, although they may not have 
time or taste for mystical theology, have yet 
a true and simple love of Jesus Christ, and a 
sincere desire to imitate Him, to know Him 
better, and to love Him more. They wai;t 

PREFACE. xiii 

to have the dry detail of homely duties 
elevated aijd beautified by the presence of 
Christ, and they are grateful for anything 
that can help to fill their imagination with 
His glorious image, and to warm their hearts 
with His love. Such persons will, if I mis- 
take not, find great benefit from this little 
book. Like most of the devotional works 
which have come down to us from mediaeval 
times, it will bear reading over and over 
again. Indeed, I believe few will read it 
once without wishing to read it again. It is 
no disparagement to the many excellent de- 
votional works of modem times to say that 
they bear traces of the incessant turmoil of 
the age of railways and electric telegraphs, 
when few have leisure to meditate ; and it is 
refreshing to take a draught of the untroubled 
waters of less artificial times. It may be that 
some will be inclined to go further, and say : 
"jNo man drinking old wine hath presently a 
mind to new; for he saith, The old is better." 
The most carefully finished portion of the 
whole work is that which treats of the " Lily." 
It is the most complete treatise on the Vir- 
ginal Life that I know of. Anyone ^Yvo^v^ 


take the trouble to compare with it S. Augus- 
tine's treatise on Virginity, will see that the 
whole of the substance, and even the words 
of the most beautiful passages, are incor- 
porated into this little work, while the 
arrangement is immensely improved. It was 
a bold idea, possibly suggested by some of 
the quaint illuminated MSS. in the convent 
library, to make the Vine blossom forth such 
a variety of flowers. The idea, however, was 
not quite original. It has its prototype in 
the "Tree of Life, bearing twelve fruits," 
which is described by S. John as standing in 
the midst of the street of the New Jerusalem. 
It must not therefore be too "hastily con- 
demned as inadmissible. But the " Lily" is 
a complete treatise in itself, and is best 
described in the author's words as being a 
compendium of " what has been treated of by 
the holy Fathers and others more diffusely, 
and encumbered with many weighty dispu- 
tations, and thus, by reason of its difficulty, 
incapable of being comprehended by the 
simple understandings of simple virgins." 
It is a beautiful specimen of the spiritual 
reading relished by monks and nuns of the 


twelfth century, and it gives us many an in- 
teresting glimpse of mediaeval convent life in 
all its purity and simplicity. It is, however, 
far from being a mere antique ; it is quite as 
applicable to consecrated virgins now, as in 
the twelfth century ; and it may be doubted 
whether any manual for young Religious 
could be found more complete and practical 
than this mediaeval treatise. 

If anyone desires to make a comparison be- 
tween a devout Christian of the twelfth, and 
and a religious Protestant of the eighteenth 
century, he would do well to compare " The 
Flowers of our Vine " with Hervey's " Medi- 
tations in a Flower Garden." The pious 
reflections of the latter on the various flowers, 
with whose botanical names he is so familiar, 
are almost as dry and insipid as his scriptural 
allusions. He is as little able to read the book 
of Nature as the book of Revelation. The 
mediaeval monk is at home in both. The letter 
of Scripture fills his memoryj but Jesus — " my 
sweetest Jesus I" as he would say — is in his 
heart ; and every petal of every flower speaks 
to him in no unknown tongue, and calls forth 
some fresh and beautiful thoustvX oi Vl\^\^- 


camate God. A more scientific observation 
of nature is justly reckoned as one of the 
glories of our age. Could we but graft upon 
it some of this power of seeing God in each 
and all His works, there would be no room 
for a conflict between Science and Faith. 

It may be well to observe that, although 
this is the first time that a complete trans- 
lation of the Vitis Mystica has appeared in 
English, yet a considerable portion of it, 
paraphrased and intermingled with original 
matter, was published a few years ago by 
Father Crosbie, O.S.B. I am very far from 
thinking my translation perfect, and have no 
desire to deprecate criticism. For many 
years, I have had the wish to publish a trans- 
lation of S. Bernard's celebrated Sermons on 
the Canticles, but have distrusted my own 
capacity for the task. If this translation of 
a work ascribed to him should be approved, 
I shall be encouraged to proceed with the 
more hazardous undertaking of turning into 
English the master-piece of the great Saint 
of Clairvaubc. W. R. B. 

S. Mary Church, 
Feast dfOuf Lady of Mount CarfHei, 1873. 




Preface vii 

Preparatory Prayer i 

Chapter l.— Christ Jesus is the True Vine 3 

Chapter II.— 0« the Pruning of the Vine; or the 
various Mysteries relating to Christ's state of 

humiliation 5 

His Circumcision 5 

His Poverty 8 

Forsaken by all except His Virgin Mother zo 

Chapter lll,'-On the Digging about the Vine, that 
is, on the snares of the Jews, and the Wounds 

of Christ 13 

Snares. — The woman taken in adultery 13 

The tribute to Caesar 15 

The Wounds of Christ. The Sacred Heart ... 16 

Chapter IV.— 0» the Bonds of our Vine, that is, 

on the various bonds and pains of Christ 26 

Obedience. The Virgin's womb. The swad- 
dling clothes 26 

The cord with which He was appiftY«nAfc^ .«%»» ^i 


The Binding to the pillar and the Scoui^ging ... 28 

The Crown of Thorns 29 

The Nails 3a 

Chapter v.— On the Culture and Comeliness of our 
Vine, that is, on the exterior and interior 

Beauty of Christ 38 

The exterior Beauty of Christ 38 

Marred by His sympathies for ug 40 

And by His lifelong sufferings 43 

Lament over JesUs crucified 49 

His interior Beauty 51 

Chapter VI.— On the Leaves of the Vine generally^ 
that is, on the various words of Christ, relating 

to the commendation of virtues , 54 

The excellence of the words of Christ 54 

They foster virtues, and shield from vices 56 

Chapter V\\.—On the Shade of the Leaves of the 
Vine, that is, on the words of Christ, uttered 
when He was lifted up on the Cross 61 

Chapter V\\\,—On the Leaves of the Vine in par* 
ticular; or, on the first word of Christ hanging 
on the Cross : * ' Father, forgive them, for they 

know not what they do" 64 

The forgiveness of injuries ,.,, 67 

Chapter IX. —O^ the Second Leaf of the Vine, or 
on the second word of Christ on the Cross : 
' ' This day thou shall be with Me in Paradise** 70 

Chapter X.—0» />4^ Third Leaf of the Vine, that is, 
on the third word of Christ on the Cross: 
** Woman, behold thy Son"— " Behold thy 

Mother'* 75 

Spiritual friendship 78 


Chapter XL— (9« the Three Kinds of Charity, com- 
mended to us by the three first words 8 1 

Chapter YAl.—On the Fourth Leaf of our Vint; or 
on the fourth word of Christ on the Cross : 
** My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken 
Mer 83 

Chapter XIII.— 0» the Fifth Leaf of our Vine, or 
the fifth word of Christ on the Cross: "/ 
thirst" : 89 

Chapter XIV.— On the Sixth Leaf of our Vine : 
that is, on the sixth word of Christ on the 

Cross :*' Cohsummatum est" 95 

Perseverance 97 

Chapter XV.— 0« the SeventhLeafofthe Vine, or 
on the last word of Christ on the Cross: 
"Father, into Thy hands I commend My 
Spirit" loi 

%^z dF(olon$( of our V[m. 

Chapter XVI.— 0« the Delightfulness of the 
Flowers of our Vine, i.e. on the virtues of 
Christ 106 

®5e SrtoUt of JJ^umHtts* 

Chapter XVII.--0« the Flower of Humility, 

which is the Violet 109 

Its size, locality, and perfume 109 

Humility of the Blessed Virgin Mary 1 14 

Humility of Jesus ....„..,.„.»,»»»»»» "V-v^ 

icx VrriS MYSTICA. 

Vbt Silfi of Fitsinits* 

Chapter XVIII.— (9« the Flower of Chastity, 

which is the Lily * 126 

Chapter XIX.— 0« the Root 0/ the Lily, that is, 

on the thoughts hidden in the heart 130 

1. Its whiteness signifies the virgin's purity of 

thought 130 

2. Its shining denotes her gaiety of spirit 133 

3. Its //z<z^//«V^ her meekness 136 

Chapter XX.— 0» the Stalk of the Lily, or the 
good purpose which springs out of the root 
of good thoughts 139 

Chapter XXI.— 0« the Uprightness of the Lily, 

that is, a right intention 140 

Chapter XXI I.— 0« the Strength of the Stalk, or 

the constancy of a good purpose 145 

Chapter XXIII. — On the Worms which eat away 
the Stalk, that is, concerning the evil sugges- 
tions which corrupt the good purpose 1 50 

Remedies for temptations against the vow of 
virginity 152 

Chapter XXIV.— C?« the Length of the Stalk; or 
on the virtue of long-suffering and persever- 
ance in the good resolution 159 

Chapter XXV.— 0« the Leaves of the Lily around 
the Stalk, that is, on the pious and fruitful 

words of virgins 162 

The idle word is the dry leaf 163 

The new song of Charity, and the old songs of 
sin 165 


Chaptkr XXVI.— 0« the new Song to be sung 

by Virgins i68 

The Song of the Virgin Mother of God i68 

The words of the virgins of Christ 170 

When to speak and when to keep silence 174 

Chapter XXVII.— (9» the Lower and Higher 
Leaves of the Lily, or on the abundance and 

fewness of words 177 

The evil of loquacity 178 

The virgin's converse with God i8i 

Chapter XXVIII.— C?« the Points to be contem- 
plated in the Lily, that is, on the beauty and 

excellence of virginity 187 

True virginity in mind and body 191 

Chapter XXIX.— 7%^/ the Flower of the Lily 

looking towards the earth teaches humility.., 196 

Four species of pride, and their antidotes 198 

Chapter XXX.— 0// the Number of the Petals of 
our Lily, or on the three disadvantages of 
this present life which virgins escape, and the 
three advantages of the life to come which they 
lookfor 207 

1. They escape the sorrows of childbirth 208 

2. They are not subject to a mortal husband... 210 

3. They are free from domestic anxieties , 214 

Chapter XXXI.— 0« the Three Advantages of 

the life to come, which virgins shall obtain . 217 

4. They follow the Lamb whithersoever He 

goeth 217 

5. They sing a new song which none else can 

learn 222 

6. They are rewarded by an everlasting name 228 
The beauty of Jesus the Spouse of Viigyws».,»»»» v^ 


Chapter XXXII.— 0« the Six yellow Floscules in 
the middle of the Lily ; that is, on the love 
of our neighbour and the six works of mercy 236 

Spiritual works of mercy are for all 238 

The Stamen a symbol of the Holy Trinity 243 

The virgin perfected in God "244 

%^t ]&o$(e of buffeting* 

Chapter XXXIII.--(9/? the Flower of Suffering, 

or on the Rose red and glowing 249 

The tears of Christ melt the heart 249 

Still more does His Precious Blood 25 1 

Chapter X^yHV.— On the Rose of Charity ...i.. 257 

Chapter XXXV.— On the Rose of Suffering 259 

Chapter XXXVI.— 0« the Seven Sheddings of 

the Blood of our Vine, Jesus Christ 26 1 

First shedding in His Circumcision 261 

Chapter XXXVI I.— (9« the Second Shedding of 

His Blood 264 

The Sweat of Blood 264 

Chapter XXXVIII.— C>« the Third Shedding of 

HisBlbod 267 

The rending of the cheeks of Christ 267 

Chapter XXXIX.— 0« the Fourth Shedding of 

HisSlood 269 

The Crown of Thorns 269 

Chapter XL.— 0« the Fifth Shedding of the Pre- 
cious Blood 271 

The Scourging , 271 


Chapter XLI.— 0« the Sixth and Seventh Shed- 
ding of the Precious Blood 274 

The piercing of the Hands and Feet of Christ 274 

The Five Wounds 276 

®]^e ®to(U${ of ^i^tinence. 

Chapter XLII.— 0» the Crocus 0/ Abstinence in 

our Vine 279 

Christ the model of Abstinence 279 

The five species of Gluttony 281 

1. Eating over-hastily 282 

2. Daintily 282 

3. More than is necessary 286 

4. Greedily, like Esau 287 

5. Intently 288 

Chapter XLIIL— 0« the Odour 0/ the Flowers of 

our Vine 293 

Christ's name is like oil poui-ed forth 296 

Jesus Christ of Nazareth 298 

The fragrant odour of Jesus Crucified 300 

Chapter YAa\N.—That Flowers [bearing honey] 

are to be sought and found on our Vine ...... 309 

The spiritual bees in our Paradise 309 

Honey from the Sacred Heart 314 

The Honeycomb of the memory 316 

Chapter XLV.— C?« the Odour of the Flowers of 

our Vine 322 

Christ's odour destroys evil suggestions 322 

Especially the vice of unbelief 323 

As the Brazen Serpent in the d^seil •>?.^ 


Chapter XLVI.— C?« the Fruit of our Vine j or, 

Christ suffering and crucified for us , 330 

Distinction between the flowers and fruits of 

our Vine 331 

The fruit of Redemption to the Just in Limbo 333 
The four kinds of wood of which the Cross 

wa5 formed 335 

1. The fruit of Redemption in the fulfilment 

ofScripture 338 

2. In the victory over the devil 339 

3. In the glory of the Resurrection 348 

4. In the jubilee of the Ascension 351 

5. And in the Mission of the Holy Ghost 352 

The fruit of Redemption is both eaten and drunk 356 

The many clusters on our Vine 359 

Conclusion of the work 361 




''lam the true F/>f<r."'— -S. John xv. i. 


GOOD Jesus, true Vine, and Tree of 
life which is planted in the midst of 
Paradise ! Lord Jesus Christ, whose 
leaves are for healing, and whose fruit 
is unto life everlasting ! Thou Blessed Flower 
and Fruit of Thy most pure Virgin Mother, 
without whom none is wise, for Thou art the 
Wisdom of the eternal Fathei, vouOcv^'ai^ \a 



refresh my weak and barren mind with 
bread of understanding and the wate 
wisdom ; that by Thy opening, O Ke 
David, things which are hidden may be 
vealed to me, and by Thy shining, O 
Light, things which are dark may be n 
clear ; so that through me. Thy humble 
vant, by Thine own manifestation and 
lightening, both we who speak and they 
hear may together have eternal life. Am 


chapter I 


Am the true Vine. By our Lord Jesus 
Christ's own assistance we may see 
certain characteristics of the earthly 
vine, by which we may also designate 
the characteristics of that Vine who is above 
the heavens, even without going further than 
those points which are outwardly noticed in 
its cultivation. And* first, the vine is gene- 
rally planted in the earth, not sown, but 
transferred from its own parent vine : and 
this seems to me to have reference to the 
conception of Jesus. The vine springing 
from the parent vine is God begotten 
of God, Son of the Father, eternal and 
consubstantial with Him of whom He is be- 
gotten. But that He might bring forth more 
fruit, He was planted in th^ e2ci\!tv, ^^.\. Ss.^ 

B 2 


conceived in the Virgin Mary, being made 
what He was not, and yet abiding what He 
was. How blessed is this earth, which 
bringeth forth blessings to all nations ! Truly 
blessed is she, who through the good gift of 
God brought forth so blessed fruit. This 
i& the earth of which it is written : " There 
was not a man to till the earthy but a spring 
rose out of the earthy watering all the surface of 
the earthy^ For this earth accepted not the 
operation of man, that the Son of God should 
be conceived in it, but it was watered with 
the water of the Holy Ghost; for so you 
read : " The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, 
and the power of the Most High shall over- 
shadow theey\ Again, of this earth it is 
written : " Let the earth be opened, and bud forth 
the Saviour J^l For it was opened by faith, 
when she believed and obeyed the angel : 
and it budded forth life and salvation, even 
our Saviour, who giveth us the rewards of 
eternal life. And so this Vine of ours was 
brought to light, and certam characteristics 
of the cultivation of a vine are to be found 
♦ Gen. ii. s, 6. f S. Luke i. 35. J Isa. xlv. 8. 

chapter it 


iJHE vine that beareth fruit is wont to 
be pruned ; 2Cnd this may be taken 
both corporally and figuratively. 
For Jesus was circumcised: not that He 
needed this circumcision, which for the an- 
cient fathers effaced original sin, as Baptism 
does in us. For He owed no debt to original 
sin contracted through the vice of concupis- 
cence,' since He was conceived without any 
carnal concupiscence whatever;* and yet [He 
was circumcised] that He might not seem to 
destroy the law which He Himself had given. 
Besides, morally, He teaches us that we ought 

♦ i.e. Not only because He is God, but considered 
merely after His Sacred Hiunanity, Christ being conceived 
of a Virgin, could not fall under the sexvleivceoiv K^^xsv-axA 
his posterity conceived in the ordinary Yia,^ o^ x^a^MX^. 


not to take it amiss, if sometimes we suffer 
the penalties of sin which we do not recog- 
nise in ourselves, when He the Cleanser from 
sin did not disdain for us to submit to the 
remedy for sin. Let us, therefore, who are 
by no means without sin, console ourselves 
in our sorrows by the sorrows of Him who 
suffered sorrow not for Himself but for us, 
and was wounded, not for Himself, but that 
He might heal our wounds. See how He 
hastened to undergo pain, how ready and 
prompt to shed His Blood. He was circum- 
cised for us on the eighth day after His 
Nativity. Would that we might suffer some- 
thing for our Lord, at least in the eighth year ! 
But what are we saying, since we find many 
planted for eight, nay, eighty years, when in 
the course of nature they are but labour and 
sorrow,* and yet not even in will are they con- 
verted to the Lord, neither so late in life are 
they mindful of His precious Blood ; nor do 
they amend their life so long subject to vanity? 
What can be more wretched ? Christ barely 
waits for the eighth day from His nativity to 
begin to pay down His own Blood for you ; 
* Ps. Ixxxix. 10. 


and you, after I say not eight days, but after 
eighty months — aye, and eighty years — do not 
repay Him even your mere will ? He, scarcely 
bom, sheds His blood for you : you,on the 
point of death, do not pour out your will to 
Him ! Good indeed is Jesus, who receives 
His servant who comes to Him in penitence, 
even in the fourth watch of the night* Have 
you given the strength of your youthful years 
to Christ's enemy? Still offer, at least, your 
failing will to Christ, who waiteth for you so 
mercifully : and doubt not but that He will 
accept it, since to us He is bom a Child, 
that He may be pleased with children's gifts : 
for little things are fit for a little One. But 
if what you offer is not little, that is, humble, 
by it you cannot find access to Him, the 
humble One, who says of Himself: ^^ I am 
the Door f'-^ and elsewhere : " Come unto Me ^ 
all; and learn of Me^ because I am meek and 
humble of heart " \ 

We may also take in another way the 
pmning of our Vine, and say He was pruned 
of all things which He lacked in this life, 
while yet He might have had them ; and we 
» S. Mark vi. 48. f S. John x. 9. % S.Ma.U« xv, -iS, -js^. 


may learn this pruning from the word of the 
Apostle, who says : " Who though He was in 
the form of God ^ debased Himself and took the 
form of a servant'^* For this very debase- 
ment, or emptying of Himself, is a kind of 
pruning. And as the vine is made less when 
it is pruned, so Christ, the true Vine, by His 
Incarnation was made a little lower than the 
Angels; yea. He was humbled beneath all 
men. How truly in Him was glory cut away 
by the pruning-knife of shame, power by the 
knife of abjection, pleasure by the knife of 
pain, riches by the pruning-knife of poverty ! 
See, then, how mucli He was pruned. He 
on whom wdteth all the glory of heaven ; 
yea, rather, who is Himself true glory, as it 
were, puts off glory. Clothed in the garment 
of a mean slave He endures shame, is covered 
with confusion, that He may redeem you from 
[everlasting] confusion, and call you back to 
primaeval glory ; He to whose mighty sway 
all things in hell and earth and heaven are 
subject, becomes such an abject as to be 
reckoned the least of all men. He is subject 
to hunger and thirst, to heat and cold, to pain 

* Philippians ii. 6, 7. 


and infirmity ; and, after all these, does not 
draw back from the torment of death. He 
who inhabiteth the light which no man can 
approach unto, on whom the angels long to 
gaze, the odour of whose sweetness so inebri- 
ates the hearts of saints, that they forget this 
present world and even their own selves and 
run after Him with all their powers, — He is 
subject to such sorrow, that in Him is truly 
seen fulfilled what was before spoken by the 
prophet : "6^ all ye who pass by the way, 
attend and see if there be any sorrow like unto 
My sorrow!'^ He, in whom are hidden all 
the treasures of the wisdom and the know- 
ledge of God, the King of kings, rich over 
all, who alone hath need of none, is made so 
poor that, as He Himself testifies. He is 
found poorer than the foxes of the earth and 
the birds of the air, as He says : ^^ Foxes have 
holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the 
Son of Man hath not where to lay His headr\ 
Poor in His birth, poorer still in His life, 
poorest of all on the Cross. For at His birth 
He has virgin milk for food, and swaddling- 
clothes for raiment. But in His life, though 
* Lament, i. 12. f S. Matt. vvii. ao. 


He had raiment, yet He very often failed for 
lack of food. In His death you find Him 
both naked and thirsty : unless you would , 
supply a remedy for that thirst in the vinegar 
mingled with myrrh and gall. 

In conclusion, by the pruning-knife of fear 
were cut ofif from Him all his friends and 
neighbours, so that there was not one to 
comfort Him of all whom He loved. For 
He trod the wine-press alone, and of the 
people there was not a man with Him : and 
when His heart sustained reproach and 
misery, He looked for one that would grieve 
with Him, but there was none, and for one 
that would comfort Him, and found him not* 
See how grievous was the pruning of our 
Vine. What vine was ever pruned so much ? 
But what was His consolation in the pruning ? 
Much fruit. Great and beyond comparison 
was the pruning He endured. And yet it 
seems to have been said significantly : ^^And 
of the people there was not a ma?i with Me ; '*t 
as though it was to be understood that women 
alone remained with Him. For man's stouter 
nature fled for fear, while woman's weakness 
* Ps. Ixviii. 21. t Job xix, 20. 


fled not, and deserted Him not when carrying 
His Cross nor when dying on the Cross. 
• Blessed Job, speaking in the person of Christ, 
complains, ^^ Nothing but lips are left about my 
teethJ^"^ By lips, which are softer than the 
other members of the body, is to be under- 
stood the female sex — soft and weak — ^which 
alone clave to Christ when the disciples fled 
away. For the Lord hath chosen the weak 
things of the world to confound the^ mighty. 
If, however, we understand it of mental 
flight, then with Him was left neither man 
nor woman, save only She, who alone is 
blessed among women, who alone through 
that sad Saturday stood firm in faith," and in 
whom alone the Church was saved from falling. 
For this cause has the whole Church been 
accustomed to celebrate the Saturdays through- 
out all the year in the praise and glory of that 
same Virgin. Truly and singularly blessed 
branch, which from her own Vine no fear 
could prune away ! Cut off" were the men 
who said, " We trusted that He would have 
redeemed Israeli \ Cut ofl" were the women, 
who though they devoutly hastened to do the 
* Isa. Ixiii. 3. f S. Luke xasiv. ^1. 


last kind offices for the dead, yet by no means 
believed that He would rise again. And 
perhaps (for I do not speak positively, lest I 
should seem to insinuate novelties) this was 
why it happened that that Mother, who had 
more devption than they, yet did not come* 
with the other women to anoint the Body of 
Christ in the Sepulchre, because she thought 
it was vain to anoint Him who she knew 
would rise again. Truly is this a valiant 
woman, and, after her Son, to be honoured 
above all others. Truly also may she be called 
Woman, who by the strength of her love was 
not separated from the Man Christ : but be- 
lieved Him, whom she saw dying and dead, 
to be exalted in the glory of immortality. 

Note. — This opinion, of the faith of the Church per- 
severing in the B. Virgm alone on the first Holy Saturday, 
was very common in the middle ages ; and Liturgical 
writers, like Durandus, thought it was symbolised by the 
single unextinguished candle at Tenebrae. The Abbot 
Gu^ranger in his Liturgical Year adopts the opinion. 
See "Passion-tide," p. 549. Later writers, as Melcior 
Canus, Bellarmine, and Benedict XIV., reject the 
opinion, and say that the Church, being a collection of 
people, could not be said to exist in one individual. 
Benedict XIV. brings evidence to prove that Saturday 
was observed as a day of special honour to our Blessed 
Lady long before the time of S. Peter Damian, who 
mentions Votive Masses on Saturday in her honour as an 
established custom in his day, i.e., about A.D. 1080. 
\De Festis, lib. ii. c. n.) 

chapter iiu 


|HEY dig all round about a vine. 
This digging signifies the fraud of 
those who lay snares. For he, who 
plots to deceive another by craft, as it were 
digs a pit for him. And so the Psalmist 
complains, saying : " They dug a pit before 
my faceJ^* For no deceit could be con- 
cealed from Him whose eyes see forward 
and backward, and who looks upon the past 
and the future as [ever] present. For all 
things are naked and open before the eyes of 
Him. + Let us then show by an example some 
of the fraud of these diggings. " They bring,'^ 
says the Evangelist, ^^ to the Lord yesus a 
woman taken in adultery: and say to Him 
* Psa. Ivi. 7. t Heb. iv. i-^. 


that Moses in the law commanded us to stone 
such an one, . But what sayest Thou ? "* Sele 
the pit which those most wicked husbandmen 
dug around our Blessed Vine, not that they 
might make it bear fruit, but rather that it 
might be withered. But their purpose was 
turned against themselves, and [the Vine thus] 
dug about became more fruitful and distilled 
the dew of mercy. Let us see their pits. 
They said among themselves : "If He shall 
say according to the law that the woman is to 
be stoned, He will fall into the pit of cruelty, 
— He, who says of Himself, ^ I am meek and 
humble of heart / \ and again, ^ I will have 
mercy and not sacrificed I But if He shall say 
she is to be let go. He will not escape the pit 
of transgression ; and will justly be condemned 
as a breaker of the law/' So do sinners lie in 
wait for the soul of the just, and observe the 
just man, and gnash with their teeth, and 
they know not that in vain the net is spread 
before the eyes of them that have wings y\ and 
that he that diggeth a pit shall fall, into /V.jl 
But our young Hart lightly skipped overll these 

* S. John viii. 3, 4. f S. Matt. xi. 29. J Ibid, xii. 7. 
§ Prov. i. 17. II Prov. xxvi. 27. \ Cant. ii. 8, 9. 


pits, and cast into them those who dug them. 
For He said : " He who is without sin among 
you, let him first cast a stone at her ;"* as 
though He would say, " I contradict not my 
own law, I forsake not my own loving-kind- 
ness. This woman, indeed, has deserved to 
be stoned ; but she shall not be stoned, be- 
cause she has none who can justly cast a 
stone at her." 

Would you wish to see some further pits 
[around our Vine] ? They say, ^^ Is it law- 
ful to give tribute to Ccesar, or not r\ For they 
said among themselves : " If He shall say. It 
is lawful ; He will be held guilty, as a des- 
troyer of our liberty : for the payment of the 
tribute is the sign of servitude. If He shall 
say. It is not lawful ; He will be guilty of 
high-treason." O fools ! A fool is wont to 
judge others by himself ; and that which he 
knows not, he thinks wise men are equally 
ignorant of. But what said Wisdom ? "I 
derogate not from liberty, I offend not 
against royalty; I fall not into your pits. 
Render to CcBsar the things that are Caesar's, 
and to God the things that are God's, I For the 
* S. John viii. 7. + S . MaU. xxW, V} . \ Ibid, n . -i.^. 


just God is not offended, since He wills that 
to each be rendered that which is his own. 
If you render to Caesar that which is Caesar's, 
Caesar is not offended. If you render to 
God the things which He has 'created justly, 
you do what is just. Render therefore to 
Caesar the denarius, which has Caesar's image : 
render to God the soul which He has created 
to His own image and likeness; and then 
you will be just.'' It would be too long to 
tell of all the pits which those wicked ones 
dug for our true Vine ; for they strove to en- 
tangle Him in all His words and works. 

But when they saw their digging round 
about Him in no way injured the Vine, but 
rather that they themselves while they were 
digging fell into their own pits ; they laboured 
not only to dig round, but to dig through the 
Vine itself, that so at least, after the manner 
of other trees, it might fall into everlasting 
unfruitfulness. They dug therefore, and they 
dug through not only His hands, but also His 
feet, yea, and His side also ; and the very 
recesses of His most sacred Heart, they 
pierced with the spear of rage, though it had 
already been wounded with the spear of love. 


" Thou hast wounded,^' says the Spouse in the 
Canticles of love, " thou hast wounded my 
Heart, my sister, my spouse,^^* O Lord Jesus ; 
Thy spouse, Thy love, Thysister has wounded 
Thy Heart. Why then was it necessary that 
that Heart should be wounded further by 
Thine enemies ? What do ye, O enemies ? 
If the Heart of our sweet Jesus is wounded, 
yea because it is wounded, why do ye add a 
second wound ? Know ye not that a heart 
touched with a single wound dies and be- 
comes insensible, and the Heart of our Lord 
Jesus is dead because it is wounded ? The 
wound of love, the death of love has taken 
full possession of Jesus, our Lord and Spouse. 
How shall a second death find entrance? 
Strong as death, yea, even stronger than death, 
is love.t For the first death, that is, the love 
which puts to death deadly evils, cannot be 
driven out of the citadel of. the heart which 
He hath purchased for Himself by an invio- 
lable right with His own Blood. ^ And if two 
equally strong ones contend, of whom one is 
within and the other outside the citadel, there 
can be no doubt that he who is within will 
» Cant. iv. 91 f Ibid. vm. ^v 


obtain the victory. See then how great is the 
force of love when it obtains possession of 
the citadel of the heart, even through the 
wound of one that slayeth most sweetly, not 
only in our Lord Jesus, but also in His 

Let us come to the Martyrs. The Martyrs, 
though they be threatened with terrors, yet 
they smile ; they are wounded, and they re- 
joice ; they are slain, and behold they triumph. 
And why ? Because by the death of charity 
inwardly in their hearts they are already dead 
to sin, dead to the world, become as it were 
insensible and unable to feel either threats or 
torments or death. What wonder is it? 
They were dead. " For you are dead,''* says 
the Apostle. A certain fool+ once wisely 
longed for such a death, when he said : " Let 
my soul die the death of the just, and let my last 
end be like to them:' O good death, wiiich 
despiseth death ! good death, which confers 
everlasting life ! 

Thus, then, already wounded and dead 
was the Heart of Jesus put to death for us, 
all the day accounted as a sheep for the 

* Col. iii. 3. t Balaam. Num. xxiii. 16. 


slaughter. But the death of the body came 
also, and overcame for a time, that it might 
be overcome for ever. It was overcome, 
because He rose again from the dead, death 
shall never more have dominion over Him. 5^ 
But since we have once come to the most 
sweet Heart of Jesus, and it is good for us to 
be here, let us not allow ourselves easily to 
be torn away from Him of whom it is 
written : ^^They that depart from Thee, shall be 
written in the earths \ But what of them that 
approach to Thee ? Do Thou Thyself teach 
us. Thou hast said to them that approach 
to Thee: ^'^ Rejoice, because your names are 
7uritten in heaven.'' I We may compare these 
two writings; for if they rejoice, who are 
written in heaven, what shall they do who are 
written on the earth? Surely they shall 
mourn. But who would not wish to rejoice ? 
Let us approach, then, to Thee, and we will 
rejoice and be glad in Thee, being mindful 
of Thy Heart. O how good and how plea- 
sant it is to dwell in His Heart ! Good 

♦ Rom. vi. 9. The Lections of the 2nd Noctum of 
tbe^ Office for the Sacred Heart commence here, 
f Jer. xviii. 13. % S. Luke y.. 2,0. 

C 2 


treasure, good pearl is Thy Heart, O good 
Jesus, which we shall find in the field of Thy 
Body dug into [with the spear].* Who would 
cast away this Pearl ? Rather I will sell all 
that I have, all the thoughts and affections of 
my mind, and I will buy it for myself, and cast 
all my care into the Heart of my Lord Jesus ; 
and without fail that will sustain me. At 
this Temple, at this Holy of Holies, at 
this Ark of the Testament will I adore 
and praise the name of the Lord, saying 
with David : " / have found my heart 'to 
pray to viy God''\ I also have found the 
Heart of my King, my Brother, and my 
Friend, my kind Jesus. And shall I not 
adore Him ? Yes indeed, I will pray [to my 
God]. For His Heart is mine, I may boldly 
say, if, yea because, my Head is Christ. 
That which belongs to my Head cannot but 
be mine. And therefore, as the eyes of my 
bodily head are truly mine eyes ; so also is 
my spiritual Heart mine Heart. What won- 
der? when the whole multitude of believers 
had one heart, j This Heart, my sweetest 
Jesus, which is both Thine and mine, I have 
* S, .Matt, .xiiij 44. f Kings vii. 27. % Acts iv. gai 


found, and having found it I will pray to my 
God. Only let me enter into this sanctuary 
of Thy hearing of my prayers ; yea, draw me 
wholly into that Heart of Thine. For 
though the crookedness of my sins may 
hinder me, yet because that Heart is enlarged 
and widened with inconceivable charity, and 
Thou who alone canst make clean him that 
is conceived from unclean seed,* so that I 
may put off the burthen of my deformity and 
pass through the entrance made by the spear, 
O Jesu, loveliest of all beauty^ wash me more 
and more from my iniquity and cleanse me 
from my, sin, that purified by Thee, I may 
approach to Thee the pure One, and may be 
worthy to dwell in Thine Heart all the days 
of my life, that I may both see and do always 
Thy will! 

For this cause was Thy side pierced, thg,t 
an entrance might be opened for us. For 
this was Thy Heart wounded, that in it and 
in Thee we might dwell secure from exterior 
troubles. No less, also, was it wounded for 
this, that by the visible wound we may see 
the invisible wound of love. For can this 
* Job xiv. 4. 


burning [love] be better shown than in His 
having permitted, not only His Body, but 
even His Heart to be pierced through with 
the spear? Thus the carnal wound shows 
the spiritual wound. And this, it may be, 
was expressed in that sentence quoted above, 
in which it is said twice, Vulnerasti, " Thou 
hast wounded.*'* Of both these wounds is 
the same sister and spouse the cause; as 
though the Spouse said openly : " Because 
thou hast wounded Me with a zeal for thy 
love, therefore am I wounded with the sol- 
dier's spear." For who could have allowed 
Thy Heart to be wounded on the Cross, if 
he had not first perceived that wound of love ? 
He saith, therefore : " Thou hast 7vounded 
my Hearty my sister^ my spouse^ thou hast 
wounded My Heart'' But why '* my sister 
and spouse r Could not the relation of 
spouse alone, or of sister alone, sufficiently 
express the affection of this loving Spouse ? 
And why " spouse," and not _" wife," when 
the Church, or each faithful soul ought to 
bring forth to Christ her Spouse the offspring 
of good works? I answer briefly, spouses 

* Cant. iv. 9.. 


not yet bound in the marriage-tie are gene- 
rally loved more ardently than they are after- 
wards. For in process of time love itself 
cools down. And so our Spouse, to teach us 
the greatness of His love, which diminishes 
not with time, calls His beloved one His 
spouse because His love for her is always fresh. 
Again, because spouses are loved with a 
carnal love. He calls the same spouse His 
sister, that you may know that there is 
nothing carnal in the love of our Spouse ; for 
sisters, even here on earth, are not loved 
carnally. Therefore He says : " Thou hast 
wounded my Heart, &c.," as though He said: 
"Because I love thee supremely as my spouse, 
chastely as my sister, my Heart is wounded 
because of thee." Who would not love that 
Heart so wounded ? Who can refuse to re- 
turn the love of a Heart so loving ? Who 
would not embrace a Heart so chaste ? She 
loves that wounded Heart who, wounded 
with His exceeding love, cries out : " I am 
wounded with love.'"'' She returns the love 
of her loving Spouse, who says : " Tell my 
Beloved that I languish with lovey\ She em- 
*Cant. ii. 5. 'Y/6id,N.%. 


braces Him who loves her with a brother's 
chaste affection, who says : " Who will give 
Thee to me for my Brother, sucking the breasts 
of my mother, that I may find Thee without, 
and embrace and kiss Thee, and now ?w man 
may despise me f * What meaneth * without? 
I think it means out of the body. As long 
as we are in this bddy, we are exiles from the 
Lord. And who would bear such exile with- 
out impatience ? It is an exile full of sorrow 
for the past, labour for the present, fear for 
the future ; an exile in which the Spouse, 
although sometimes He manifests Himself in 
the grace of consolation, yet standeth afar 
off, as it were, behind our wall,\ while this 
body of sin separateth between us and Him ; 
and He does not readily give Himself to be 
touched and kissed, except to that soul which 
has advanced to such a height of merit, that 
He may say to her: ''Surge, arnica mea, 
columba mea, formosa mea. Arise, my love, 
my dove, my beautiful one."t She alone, and 
that but rarely, yet thinking herself to some 
extent to have comprehended, cries aloud : 
"7 have found Him, whom my soul loveth ; 
* Cant. viii. i. f ibid. ii. 9. % Ibid. v. lo. 


/ hold Hiniy and will not let Him go^'"' But 
to this degree one does not easily ascend. 
Let us, therefore, while we remain still within, 
that is, in the body, let us love our Spouse as 
much as we can ; let us return love for His 
love : let us embrace our wounded One, into 
whose Hands and Feet, and Side and Heart, 
the impious husbandmen dug [so deeply] ; and 
let us be urgent that He would deign to take 
this heart of ours, still so hard and impeni- 
tent, and bind it with the chain, and wound 
it with the dart of His love. 

* C'ant. iii. 4. 


Ct)apter it). 


ilHE vine is bound. Who cannot 
see the bonds of our Vine? Let 
us, however, contemplate this bond 
of His. The first was Obedience. For He 
obeyed His Father unto death, even the 
death of the Cross." He obeyed His Mother 
and Joseph, as it is written: "ZT^ came to 
Nazareth with them^ and was subject unto 
them J' \ He obeyed earthly judges ; He paid 
the tribute. The second bond was the womb 
of the Virgin, of whom we sing : " Thou didst 
bear in. thy sacred womb Him whom the 
heavens could not contain, — Quia quern 
cceli capere nan poterant^ tuo sancto gremio con- 
* Philjppians. ii. 8. ' t S. Luke ii. 51. 


tulistir (6th Resp. Nativ.) The third was 
in the Manger, as it is written : 

. Thus God made Man an Infant lies, 
And in a sordid manger cries ; 
His sacred limbs, by Mary bound, 
The poorest tatter' d rags surround ; 
And God's incarnate feet and hands 
Are closely wrapped in swathing bands.* 

His fourth bond was the cord with which 
He was bound when He was apprehended ; 
for so you have it related : . " Then^' namely, 
when He had been betrayed, **they laid 
hold on yesus and bound Him,^^\ O King of 
kings, and Lord of lords, what hast Thou to 
do with bonds ? Vines are bound, lest they 
should fall on the ground, and so their fruit 
be lost or corrupted. But vHis fruit was and 
is incorruptible. Why then is He bound ? A 
certain king,| when wounded with a spear, 
was asked to allow himself to be bound while 
it was being cut out, because the slightest 
movement might cause death. "No,'' said 

* Vagit infans inter arcta 
Conditus praesepia ; 
'Membra pannis involuta 

Virgo Mater alligat : 
Pedes, manus, atque crura 
Stricta cingit fascia. 

{Hymn for Passion Sunday. ) 
f S. John xviii. 12. 
X Alexander the Great. (CwrHtts, \\\i. \ts.. ^. x^ ^ 


he, ** it is not fitting for a king to be bound. 
Let the power of a king be free, and it is 
always safe." O God of gods, how great then 
was that humiliation of Thy liberty and power ! 
Thou art thus bound with so many bonds, 
who alone hast the power of binding and 
loosing ? But Thou art bound for Thine own 
mercy's sake, that Thou mightest make us 
free from the bonds of our miseries. Oh ho^ 
.pitiless were the bonds of those most pitiless 
ones, with which they bound that most meek 
Lamb ! With the eyes of my mind I see 
Thee, O Lord Jesus, bound with such hard 
cords, and like a thief led to the judgment 
hall of the chief priests, and from thence to 
Pilate j I see Thee, and I shudder and am 
amazed, and I should faint with amazement 
if I did not know well that Thou wast first 
bound in Thy Heart with the cords of charity, 
and these had power to draw Thee easily to 
those most terrible cords of suffering. Thanks 
be to Thy bonds, O good Jesus, which so 
powerfully burst asunder ours ! 

The fifth bond was that with which He was 
bound to the pillar when He was scourged. 
Although the scourges themselves which went 


all round His Body might not incorrectly be 
called bonds. But pitiless as they were, hard 
as they were, unjust as they were, I love the 
bonds of those scourges ; for to them it was 
given to touch Thy most sacred Body, and 
they were profusely stained with Thy most 
pure Blood, O good Jesus ! For if in Thy 
scourging Thy Blood was shed so copiously 
that, we are told, the pillar sprinkled with 
those drops bears the red marks still, how 
much Blood may I suppose to have clung to 
the scourges themselves, as they cut into that 
most gentle Body of Thine ? So sharply was 
our Lord scourged, that His Blood shot high 
up into the air. See, now, how well it agrees 
with this binding, that the vine is bound to a 
stake. For what else is to be understood by 
the stake but that pillar to which our Lord 
Jesus was bound ? As the vine to the stake, 
so is Christ bound to the pillar. 

The sixth bond was the Crown of thorns, 
which encompassed with great bitterness that 
dear Head, and left in it the marks of its 
many points ; which drew from it drops of 
Blood, and sent them trickling across that 
Venerable Face, off which the s^toci^^ oS.*^^ 


Jews had scarcely dried. Cruel was this bond, 
above all the pains which He endured on the 
Tree, and yet it has an honour and a beauty 
exceeding great. O King of glory, Lord 
Jesus Christ, the crown of all who confess 
Thee, and who follow Thee, who fight 
for Thee, live for. Thee, abide in Thee ! 
who hath bound Thee with so bitter a 
bond of confusion ? Behold confusion 
covers Thy Head and Thy lovely Face. An 
evil and bitter generation hath forced a deri- 
sive honour on Thee for a crown ; but in 
Thee sorrow and confusion vie with the ppints 
of the thorns. I know-not which causes Thee 
most pain. The crown brings on Thee 
derision — the thorns pricking. ** Go forth, O 
daughters of Sion, and behold King Solomon 
in the diadem, with which His mother crowned 
Him, in the day of His espousals, and in the 
day of the gladness of His Heart. ^^ * Let 
every soul that acknowledges herself a daughter 
of Sion, that is, of the Church, go forth from 
worldly cares, from vain thoughts, and see by 
contemplation of heart King Solomon, that 
is, Christ Jesus, who is our Peace, destroying 

* Cant. iii. ii. 


enmities, and making friendship again between 
God and man. See Him, O happy soul, in 
the diadem with which His mother crowned 
Him ; that is, His mother the synagogue, the 
people of the Jews. O bitter mother ! ' What 
sin hath this good Son of thine committed, 
that He should even be bound with bopds ? 
He it is who looseth them that are bound ; 
who lifteth up them that are broken down ; 
who receiveth them that are strangers, and 
consoleth the orphans and the widows ; and 
hath He deserved to be bound ? Is this the 
dowry, these the presents thou bestowest 
upon Him at His wedding ? For this day is 
the day of His espousals ; a day of indig- 
nation and blasphemy, a day of tribulation 
and misery, a day of shocks and sorrow, a 
day of bonds and of death is the day of His 
espousals. With this dowry, O faithful soul, 
thy precious Spouse hath betrothed thee to 
Himself; and He, as a Spouse, goes forth 
crowned to-day — crowned, it says, not with 
gold, nor gems, but with thorns. Nor lacked 
He a purple robe of derision. For they put 
around Him a purple cloak, although He had 
Himself empurpled the garment of His "Bod^j 


far more nobly with the shedding of His own 
most precious Blood. Purple is not dyed 
more than twice : but He dyed the purple of 
His Body not only twice, but also in a three- 
fold stream of Blood. Behold, O spouse, this 
Spouse of thine is reddened in the sweat of 
Blood, in the scourging, and again at His 
crucifixion. Lift up the eyes of thy heart and 
see if this be thy Spouse's coat or not. Be- 
hold a most evil beast hath devoured Thy 
Son, Thy Brother, Thy Spouse.* Who can 
keep from groans and tears at this? Who 
can refrain ^ from sorrow ? For if' it is good 
to rejoice because of Jesus, so is it also good 
to weep for our good Jesus. 

The seventh band was of iron, with which 
He was bound on the Cross: This band 
was more cruel than the rest, for it not only 
separated from contact with each other His 
most sacred hands and feet, but even tore 
away that most pure Soul of His from the 
stainless home of His Body. Now, then, 
O daughters of Sion, go forth and see our 
Peace-maker, fighting for our liberty, coa- 
tending in battle. See the Author of our life, 
* Gent xxxvii. g2, 33^ 


entering for us the gates of death,* to recall 
us to the way of life. See those most hard 
bands, the iron nails cruelly penetrating those 
feet and hands which wrought our salvation 
in the midst of the earth. See the wood 
of the Cross put on our Bread,| that Bread 
most white. Bread refined, the Bread of 
angels, Who came down from heaven to give 
Himself to us for Food, and to refresh our 
souls, ever subject to labour, not with strange 
food, but with Hin;iself ; and, by incorporating 
Himself with us, not to change Himself into 
our flesh, but to reform us into His own 
Spirit. See how the Just One is bound, how 
the most Free One, even our ihost good 
Spouse, is reputed with the wicked. Our 
Life dies, not for His own needs but for ours. 
Pour out floods of tears for Him who dieth 
in such bonds, for He Himself also wept 
first. Attend and see to how bitter, how 
shameful a death He is condemned. For 
He waiteth still, and anxiously looketh to see 
if there be one who will grieve together with 
Him ;J if He may find one who will wipe away 
His streams of Blood, and take Him down 

# yanuas vita, f Jer. xi. 19. J Ps. bwm. »t.. 


from the Cross, and enfold Him in the clean 
Winding-sheet, not of cloth but of the heart, 
and, weeping with the blessed weeping 
women, follow Him to the Tomb. Every 
soul that shall do this perseveringly will, I 
trust, merit one day to be. most joyfully re- 
freshed with the gladness of His Resurrection. 
For ^^if we suffer with Him we shall also 
reign with Him^^^ And this the spouse in 
the Canticles well expresses when she says — 
^^My Beloved is a little bundle of myrrh to me; 
He shall abide between my breasts ;^^ and then 
adds : "^ cluster of Cyprus my Love is to f/ie"f 
What is a bundle of myrrh? The bitter 
myrrh signifies the bitterness of the Passion, 
and the bundle indicates the union of many 
sufferings in one. The Spouse, therefore, 
becomes to His Bride a bundle of myrrh 
when He presents Himself to her mind as 
afflicted with the many outrages [of His 
Passion], of which some have already been, 
and others remain to be enumerated. But 
what are the breasts of the spouse between 
which she says He shall abide ? The two 
breasts of the spouse are prosperity and ad^ 
* a Tim. ii. 12* f Cant. i. 12-13. 


versity. She is nourished, as it were, with 
these breasts when she is comforted in adver- 
sity and not uplifted by prosperity. She 
places her Beloved between these ' breasts 
when she is mindful of Him both in adver- 
sity and in prosperity. And hence it comes 
to pass that He who was just now a bundle 
of myrrh, that is, who embittered the mind 
of His spouse with the bitterness of His 
sufferings, all at once is a Cluster of Cyprus, 
containing in Himself the wine of joy and 
gladness. And this He becomes to the Bride 
when she sees her Spouse, whom she had 
beheld oppressed with outrages, and con- 
demned, to a most shameful death, by His 
Resurrection triumphant in glory and crowned 
with honour ; and with that Humanity which 
He assumed seated at the right hand of the 
Father ; and she is filled with the surest coti- 
fidence that, through divers tribulations, she 
will also enter into the same joy of her 

Let us, then, also go forth, accordingly to 

the admonition of S. Paul the Apostle,* with 

our Spouse the good Jesus without the camp, 

* Hcb. xiiik ij. 


36 VIl^lS MYSTIC A. 

that is, out of the concupiscences of this 
present world, bearing with Him the reproach 
of the Cross, the sharpness of the bands. 
For it is not fitting that there should be a 
pampered member beneath a crucified Head, 
and the member that has not shared in the 
suffering of the Head gives no indicatioja of 
belonging to the Body of that Head. Let 
us, therefore, be bound with the bonds of the 
Passion of our good Jesus, that we may also 
be bound with Him in the bonds of charity. 
For He, bound with the bonds of charity, 
was drawn down from heaven to earth to 
receive the bonds of His Passion ; we, on 
the contrary, who desire to be drawn from 
earth to heaven, must first bind ourselves to 
out Head in the bonds of His Passion that, 
cleaving by this to the bonds of charity, we 
may be made one with Him, as He prayed 
the Father when He said : ** Father I pray 
that those whom Thou hast given Me^'^ con- 
firmed in charity, " may be one in us, as Thou 
and I are ofte^*^ What can be more glorious 
than this unity ? What more can you have 
or wish ? You shall be one with your Spouse. 
* S.John xvii. 9-ai. 


O happy, very happy, most happy unity of 
all ! In this unity the Apostle felt he was 
united to Christ when he said : " Who shall 
separate us from the love 'of Christ ? Shall 
tribulation 1 or distress ? or famine ? or na- 
kedness ? or dafiger 1 or persecution ? or the 
sword 1 I am sure that neither deaths nor 
life, nor angels, nor principalities , nor powers , 
nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, 
shall he able to separate us from the love 
of Christ J^esus""^ Let us long, with all our 
desires, to be bound in the bonds of this 
charity to our Spouse and Lord, so that, 
following in His footsteps, we may reaoh that 
place where He is who said, ^^ Father, I will 
that where I am tJiere also may my servant 
be" — Volo Pater, ut nbi ego sum, illic sit e 
minister meus.\ 

• I Rom. viii. 35, 38, 39. 

f S. John xii. 26, and xvii. 24 ; 5th Antiphon for 


chapter M. 


JAVING contemplated in part those 
matters which have to do with the 
cultivation of the vine in its more 
external aspect, we may now direct our at- 
tention to the vine itself, in order that, by cer- 
tain resemblances which it bears [to Him], we 
may gain a nearer and mor^ accurate view of 
bur own True Vine. The whole trunk of the 
vine is found to be more ill-shapen than other 
trees and shrubs, and appears as though it 
were altogether useless and worthless ; neither 
in appearance is it pleasant or agreeable to 
the sight. What are we to say to this ? The 
body of the vine ought to symbolise that of 
our Lord Jesus Christ; and yet there seems a 


very great dissimilarity between its deformity 
and the form of Him, of whom it is written : 
** Thou art beautiful inform above the sons of 
men'* — Spedosus forma prce filiis hominum,* 
There are some, however, who apply these 
words not to the exterior but to the interior 
man, that is, to the Soul or to the Divinity, 
in which He far excelled not only the sons 
of men but even the sons of God, the angels. 
For He was made so much better than the 
angels, as He hath inherited a more excellent 
name than they, t Consequently, that we may 
not seem to contradict this opinion, we give 
the authorities for it, although we are aware 
that there are many not yet wholly spiritual 
who think otherwise, and picture to them- 
selves a kind of spiritual beauty in the Body 
of our Lord. And if ever they are told that 
our Lord Himself was mean in form, they do 
not bear it patiently ; and even if they hold 
their tongue, yet they murmur against it in 
the anger and disgust of their minds, not 
remembering that it is written : " // is the 
Spirit that quickenethy but the flesh profiteth 
fiothing^X They do not listen to Isaias, or 
♦ Ps. xliv. 3. t Heb. i. 4. X S. Jolvtv vv. 6^ 


they listen unwillingly when he says of Him : 
^^ Behold we have seen Him^ and there was 
no beauty in Him, nor comeliness ; and there 
was no sightliness that- we should be de- 
sirous of Him; He was despised^ and the 
most abject of men, a Man of sorrows, ana 
acquainted with infirmity ; and His coun- 
tenance was, as it were, hidden and despised, 
whereupon we esteemed Him not. And we 
have thought Him, as it were, a leper, and 
as one struck by God and afflicted ""^ See 
how He is described by the prophet. What 
could be more clear? Yes, and so He 
really was in the eyes of the unbelieving and 
the carnal, who only understood how to see 
.the flesh. 

We may also prove this by evident rea- 
sons. First, by the affection of compassion ; 
and secondly, by the defect of the Passion. 
And because He really took on Him our 
affections, let us see how men are wont to be 
affected towards those whom they love, that 
by things well known we may attain to things 
we know not. Every one knows that when 
a man has a friend in great danger, he is 

* Isaias liii. 2, 3, 4. 


often moved with such affection and sorrow 
as to wear away his own body. If man suf- 
fers this for his fellow-man, how much more, 
think you, did God-man suffer for man ? If 
you, in sympathy for a single man, incur 
bodily danger, what, think you, did the Lord 
Jesus bear for all the human race ? For all 
were His, and all were sick with a mortal 
disease. We know, indeed, that S. Paul the 
Apostle said of himself: ** Who is weak and 
I am not weak T'* And truly, he was so 
weakened that, as he himself confesses, his 
[bodily] presence was contemptible ;t and as 
he says : " The world is crucified to me, and I 
unto the world J*X The world was crucified to 
him, since he counted all which belonged to 
the world as dead. And he was also cruci- 
fied to the world ; because, by the number 
of his sympathies and of his sufferings, his 
body was so attenuated and wasted away, 
that the world shrunk from him in horror, 
finding in him nothing in common with itself. 
If, then, Paul with the weak became weak — 
he their fellow-servant and brother out of 
sympathy for his fellow-servants and brethren, 

* 2 Cor. xi. 29. f Ibid, x, 10. X O^. n\. \ v 


what must have been the compassion of our 
kind Jesus, the Lord and Father, for His own 
creatures and children? S. Paul burned, being 
set on fire* as it were with a ray of the sun; 
what must have been the burning heat of the 
Sun itself? If by the affection of compassion 
he is burned down to such infirmity who has 
but a spark of charity, what must have been 
felt by Charity itself, out of whose fulness 
all have received ? 

It cannot possibly be doubted but that He, 
who came to bear the Cross, endured bodily 
weakness and wasting to an extent beyond 
comparison, and was beyond all others affec- 
ted, as the affection of compassion was in 
Him so much greater than in them, seeing 
that His eyes perceived not only men's deeds 
but even their thoughts. Our Lord's own 
sentence confirms these arguments when He 
speaks thus : " O yerusalem^ Jerusalem, how 
often would I have gathered thy children to- 
gether as a hen gathereth her chickens under 
her wings ^ aiid thou wouldest notP^\ Let 
us see what this means — our Lord's being 
pleased to compare himself to a hen rather 

* 2 Cor. xi. 29. t S. Matt, xxiii. 37. 


than to any other animal. It was, as the 
holy Fathers hold, so done to express the 
incomparable affection of His Charity. For 
no animal is moved towards her young with 
such tender compassion as the hen. She be- 
comes all rough, her feathers sticking out all 
over her body, her note becomes hoarse and • 
shrill, she is all in a fever of spirit and weak 
in all her members, and reduced to the last 
extremity. If then the hen, an irrational 
creature, has such tender compassion for her 
young, how much, think, did our most good 
Jesus suffer in His compassion for the human 
race ? To what weakness and infirmity did 
it not reduce Him ? How emaciated must not 
He have become who is known to have 
sorrowed for all ? And hence Isaias says : 
"Truly He hath borne our infirmity and 
carried our sins. Vere languores nosiros ipse 
tulit, et peccata nostra ipse portavtty-' 

But let us now come to the [disfigurement 
He underwent from] the defect of the 
Passion. And we do n6t mean by His Passion 
that single day on which He died, but His 
whole life. For the whole life of Christ was 

* Isaias liii. 4. 


a cross and a martyrdom. We may say it 
shortly, but in meditation we will linger over 
it long — ^how great severity there was in His 
abstinence ; how lengthened were His vigils; 
how unremitting He was in His prayers, 
in labour, and in the sweat of His brow; 
how assiduous when He went about the 
towns and villages, preaching and healing 
everywhere ; and how often He endured 
hunger and thirst, — He, that living Bread, 
that Fountain of water . springing up unto 
life eternal ! Let us contemplate that other 
fast of forty days and forty nights, after which 
He was hungry ; and then let us meet Him 
coming back to men from the desert, and 
let us consider that dear Face worn with such 
long fasts. Well did the Evangelist put it, 
that after the fast, ^^ He 7vas hungry ^''"^^ that 
you may know that Jesus fasted, not in the 
strength of His Divinity,, but in the nature 
of His humanity. For it would have been 
no great thing, if, in the strength of His 
Divinity, in which He was never hungry, He 
had fasted forty days. 

And now let us come to that agony of the 

* S. Matt. iv. 2. 


last day, and we cannot be ignorant of the 
causes of His Body being so marred. Let, 
therefore, our consideration begin in that 
place, where, as He Himself testifies, His 
Soul was sad even unto death.* The sweat 
of blood flowed copiously over all His limbs 
as He prayed and agonized, so that it not 
merely oozed out, but in great drops ran down 
upon the earth. Let us now proceed and pass 
through the afflictions of that night ; how 
He was held, and bound, and dragged, and 
confined, and beaten, spit upon, struck with 
blows and buffets, crowned with thorns, 
beaten on the head with a reed, torn with^ 
most cruel scourges, laden with His own 
Cross, first carrying that which immediately 
afterwards was to carry Him. Behold Jesus 
thus ! What room for delights is here ? 
What beauty of comeliness here? Who 
would look for beauty of form in a Body so 
mangled ? 

But let us come to the end. Jesus is 

stripped. Wherefore? . That you may be able 

to see the disfigurement of that most pure Body 

of His. Therefore is our good Jesus stripped. 

• S. Matt. xxvi. 38. 


Ah me ! He who adorned the heavens with 
the variety of the stars, before the Cross is 
stripped ; and all naked as He is and livid 
[with wounds], is fastened to the Cross. 
Alas ! The brightness of the eternal Light * 
grows black in the flesh for the salvation of 
flesh, and the Face which the cherubim and 
seraphim desire to look upon is swollen 
with tears. Stripped and bare is the Lord, 
who before the ages reigned as King, and 
put on beauty and strength, He to whom we 
sing : ** Thou hast put on praise and beauty^ 
and art clothed with lights as with a garment " 
— Confessionem et decorem induisti ; amictus 
lumine, sicut vestimento, t He is made a 
spectacle and a laughing-stock to the world 
and to men; I He is become, as it were, a 
wonder unto many,§ and an object at which 
the people shake their heads, — He, our Head, 
our Joy, our Honour, good Jesus ! But why 
do I delay? He is lifted up on the Cross, 
and the hands and feet of the best of men, 
the kind Jesus, are pierced through. His 
Blood, if any remains, is shed forth. Our 

* Wisd. vii. 26. f Psalm ciii. i a. 

X I Cor. iv. 9. § PsAlm Ixx. 7. 


Mediator stands in the breach in the sight 
of His Father, to turn away His anger, lest 
He should destroy us.* Truly He falls not 
in heart; He stands with constancy and 
perseverance in His goodwill. Oh how do 
I behold Thee, sweet Jesus ! Oh sweetest 
and most loving Jesus, who hath condemned 
Thee to so bitter and so odious a death ? O 
only Saviour from the ancient wounds of our 
forefathers, who hath dragged Thee to suffer 
these most dreadful and still more shameful 
wounds \ O good Jesus, most sweet Vine, 
is this the fruit Thy vineyard which Thou 
hast transplanted out of Egypt has brought 
forth to Thee ?t Thou hadst waited patiently 
even unto this day of Thy marriage that it 
might bring forth grapes ;| but it has brought 
Thee thorns. For it has crowned Thee with 
thorns, and compassed Thee about with the 
thorns of its sins. See, into what bitterness 
is turned the vine, which is now no longer 
Thine, but a stranger's. For it denied Thee 
when it said and shouted : ^^ We have no 
king but Ccemrr% And so the sacrilegious 

• Psalm cv. 23. f Psalm Ixxix. 9. 

X Isaias v. a. § S. John k\x. iv 


husbandmen cast Thee out from Thy city and 
community, and killed Thee,* not suddenly, 
but brought about by the long torment of the 
Cross, and tortured with the many wounds 
of the scourges and of the nails together. 
Oh ! Lord Jesus, how many hast Thou to strike 
Thee? Thy Father striketh Thee, who 
spared not His own son, even Thee, but 
delivered Thee up for us all.+ Thou strikest 
Thyself, for Thou dost deliver unto death 
Thy life, which without Thee, no man can 
take from Thee. J The impious disciple 
striketh Thee with the betrayal and the false 
kiss. The Jews strike Thee with cuffs and 
blows. The Gentiles strike Thee with 
scourges and nails. See how much Thou 
wast stricken and humiliated. Oh, how many 
hadst Thou to strike Thee and deliver Thee 
up ! Thy heavenly Father delivered Thee 
up ; for, as it is said, He delivered Thee up 
for us all.§ And thus one of Thy fervent 
djsciples gives thanks to Thee and says : 
" Who loved us, and delivered up Himself for 
^j."!! O truly wonderful transaction ! The 

♦ S.'Matt. xxi. 39. + Rom. viii. 31. % S. John x. 18, 
§ Rom. viii. 31. Eph. v. a. 


King has delivered Himself up for a slave, 
God for man, the Creator for the creature, 
the innocent for the guilty. Thou didst 
then ddiver Thyself into the hands of the 
traitor, that false disciple. He delivered 
Thee up to the Jews, and those worst of 
traitors delivered Thee up to the Gentiles to 
be mocked, and spit upon, and scourged, and 
crucified.* Thou hast said and foretold all 
these things, and behold! they have been 
done. For^ all things have been accom- 
plished, and Thou art crucified. And it is 
not enough for Thee to have been wounded, 
but they must add grief to Thy wounds, + 
and give Thee to drink, when Thou art 
thirsty, wine mingled with myrrh and gall. J 

I mourn over Thee, O Lord, my King, 
my Master and Father, yea, even my Brother, 
my Lord Jesus Christ, dear to me above the 
love of women. Thine arrow never tumeth 
back.§ For thine arrows, that is. Thy teach- 
ings are sharp ; for Thy word is living and 
effectual, and sharper than any two-edged 

♦ S. Matt. XX. i8, 19. f Psalm Ixviii. 27. 

t S. Matt, xxvii. 34, and S. Mark xv. 23. 
\ See David's lainentation over Jonathan, 3 Kings 
i. 20, which is paraphrased here. 



sword, and pierceth even to the dividing 
asunder of soul and spirit* Nor is Thy 
shield cast away in the battle. For with the 
shield of Thy goodwill Thou hast crowned 
us. The spear of Thy prayers is not turned 
aside j for even for Thine enemies hast Thou 
prayed that they might not perish : how 
much more for Thy friends ! Thou art 
stronger than the lion. For Thou, O Lion 
of the tribe of Judah, hast overcome that 
lion who goeth about seeking whom he may 
devour. Thou art swifter than the eagle. 
For Thou hast exulted as a giant to run Thy 
course, to accomplish the mystery of Thine 
Incarnation ; until, as an eagle enticing her 
young to fly,' Thou didst spread forth the 
wings of Thine arms on the Cross, and 
hovering over us hast taken us up and carried 
us on Thy shoulders,t in Thine own strength 
to Thy dwelling-place, the home of Thy 
habitation and of Thy glory. And there, aver 
the sheep and the groat that was lost and 
found, Thou hast made a feast for Thy 
neighbours and Thy friends, the blessed 
spirits, and joyfully dost Thou invite them 
* Hebrews iv. ia« f Deut. xxxii. zi. 


to rejoice with Thee, and causest joy in 
heaven over one sinner doing penance.* 
And though Thou art so good and so great, 
Thou art condemned to a most shameful 
death, and commending Thy spirit into Thy 
Father's hands, Thou dost bow the head and 
give up the ghost 

Come then, I pray you, and condole with 
Him all ye who desire to rejoice in the Lord. 
Consider our strong One, how crushed He 
is; our desirable One, how miserably dis- 
figured ; our Peacej-maker, how He lies slain 
in battle. Where is His rosy ruddiness? 
where His youthful brightness ? where in His 
Body so sadly bruised will you find beauty ? 
Behold our days have failed, the days of 
our Lord Jesus, who alone is day without 
darkness, and His bones are dried up like a 
cinder ! He is stricken as the grass, and His 
Heart is dried up; He is lifted up and broken 
exceedingly; but in His exterior deformity + He 
retained within beauty and true glory as 
well. Do not, therefore, faint in your tribu- 
lations for Him ; because all saw Him, who 

* S. Luke XV. lo. 

+ Decore, probably a mistake for dtdtwrt. 

£ 2 


is beautiful in form above the sons of men, 
on the Cross : and they, who looked only on 
the outward appearance, saw Him as not 
having form or comeliness, but His face was, 
as it were, abject and deformed. Yet, from 
this deformity of our Redeemer flowed the 
price of our beauty, yea, our interior beauty. 
For all the glory of the king's daughter is 
from within.* She felt this, who in the 
Canticle of Solomon, cried out : ^^ I am blacky 
but beautiful, O ye daughters of J^erusalem, 
as the curtains of Solofnony\ If the Body of 
our Lord Jesus had not been disfigured (and 
its blackness we have above in part traced 
out), who should declare His interior beauty, 
for in Him was all the fulness of the God- 
head? Let us, therefore, be disfigured 
outwardly in the body with .our disfigured 
Jesus, that we may be reformed interiorly in 
soul with our beautiful Jesus. Let us be 
conformed in our body to the body of our 
Vine, that He may reform the body of our 
humanity according to the figure of the Body 
of His glory." Let us be imitators of the 
Apostle Paul, as he was of Christ, who says 
* Psalm xliv. 14. f Cant. i. 4. X Philippians iii. 21. 


of himself: ^^ I am crucified with Christ ;^^'^' 
and again, " I always bear about in my body 
the marks of Jesus Christ ''\ Well did he 
bear the stamp of the Passion of Jesus Christ 
in his body, to whom the world was dead 
and he to the world. He had become 
brown, because the sun had altered his 
colour, J the sun of the Passion aijd the love 
of Christ. Nevertheless, be it known that 
in what we have said of the disfigurement of 
the beautiful Body of our Lord, we have 
spoken not of His natural, but of His acci- 
dental deformity, not blaming in Him any 
defect of nature, but extolling the charity of 
His Passion. 

* Gal. ii. 19. t Ibid. vi. 17. J Cant. i. 5. 

chapter MU 


DHE leaves of the vine are finer -than 
those of almost all trees. And what 
is set forth to us in the leaves but 
the words of our true Vine, the most kind 
Jesus? The vine excels in leaves : our Lord 
Jesus excels in words. The servants of the 
Jews felt this who were sent to apprehend 
Jesus and returned, and when found fault with, 
said " Never did man speak like this ManJ*^''' 
They did not find fault with the defects of 
the trunk [of the vine] when they saw the 
beauty of the leaves ; yea, by the leaves they 
felt that something lay hid, besides what 

* S. John vii. 46. • 


appeared in that weak Body. Peter also had 
felt it, for, when many went back from the 
Lord Jesus, and the twelve disciples were 
asked by Him, " Will ye also go away ? " he 
answered, " Lord, whither shall we go ? Thou 
hast the words of eternal lifeJ'^' And we, to 
whom shall we go ? — God forbid. As though 
he would say, ** Thou hast those most beau- 
tiful leaves, which protect us from all hurt. 
Give us then another more beautiful — that is, 
better than Thyself, and we will go to him 
away from Thee. But such an one, though 
thou canst do all things, thou canst not give 
us ; to whom then shall we go if we leave 
Thee? " She had felt the beauty of these leaves, 
that is, the words of the kind Jesus, who, 
when he was speaking to the multitudes, was 
so rejoiced at the singular beauty of the 
leaves, that she not only thought or even 
spoke aside, but lifting up her voice she said, 
^^ Blessed is the womb that bare Thee, and 
the breasts which Thou hast sucked^^\ Truly 
blessed, yea most blessed is the earth which 
brought forth such a Vine, the Virgin 
Mary, Mother of Jesus. Truly art thou also 
* S. Luke xi. 27. \ S. JoVixin\. ^"i,^. 


blessed, O woman, who didst consider the 
beauty of the leaves, and didst boldly bear 
testimony to the truth, alone among so many 
of His calumniators. I believe that even 
now thou hast a great reward, and wilt h^ve a 
greater for this confession .of thine ; for He, 
the Truth itself, to whom thou barest wit- 
ness, confesses thee now before His Father, 
and will confess thee none the less when He 
shall say to his calumniators, ^\I know you not^^^ 
depart from Me^ ye cursed^ into everlasting 
fire''\ But to those who are known of Him 
He will say : " Come ye blessed of my 
Father,^'X Peter and John and Matthew saw 
the greenness of the leaves of the true Vine, 
when at the mere voice of His call the for- 
mer left their nets,§ and the latter his receipt 
of custom. II Who is able to reckon up the 
power of the words of our kind Jesus ? What 
power of words is there which is not set forth 
in those words of His? Assuredly none. 

Will you now hear briefly words which, 
like the leaves, afford us a shelter from the 
burning heat of vices ? To commend humi- 

♦ S. Matt. XXV. 12. f Ibid, v. 41. t Ibid. v. Q4. 
§ S. Mark i. i8, 20. || Ibid. ii. 14. 


lity, He says : **Z^<f who will be the greatest 
among you, let him be your minister -^^ and 
" The Son of Man came not to be ministered 
unto, but to minister, and to give His life for 
the redemption of manyT'^ To commend 
meekness as opposed to anger: ^^ Learn oj 
Me, for I am meek and humble of heart : " 
and again : ** Blessed are the meek, for they 
shall inherit the earth,^^\ To commend 
charity as opposed to envy, He says : " Love 
your enemies, do good to them who hate you 
and calumniate you, that you may be the 
children of your Father, who maketh His sun 
to rise upon the good and the bad, and send- 
eth rain upon the just and the unjust^X To 
commend alacrity in spiritual exercises as 
opposed to sloth, He says to His disciples ; 
** Watch and pray that you enter not into 
temptation r\ And elsewhere : " That men 
ought always to pray and never to faint /% in 
which passage it is explained that prayer is 
an affair not only of the voice, but also of 
.devotion. For we cannot always be crying 
out with the movement of the lips ; but we 

♦ S. Matt. XX. 26, 28. f Ibid. v. 4. J Ibid. v. 44, 45. 
§ Ibid, xxvi, 41. II S. Luke xviii. i. 


may always be fervent in good desires, as the 
Lord shewed when He said to Moses who 
did not speak : " Why cryest thou unto me ? "* 
He calls the desire of the holy man a cry, al- 
though as a fact his tongue was silent ; hence 
the Lord in the Psalm says : ** The Lord 
hath heard tfie desire of the poor : Thine ear 
hath hearkened to the preparation of their 
hearts.^'^ To commend liberality as opposed 
to avarice : ** Give alms, and all things are 
clean unto you^X And that word : *' Make to 
you friends of the mammon of iniquity, that 
when you fail they may receive you into ever- 
lasting dwellings ''\ Of the riches of iniquity 
or of inequality, that is, what we abound in 
which others are in want of, we make friends 
for ourselves when we bestow them on the 
poor; so that, if we are now merciful to 
them, we may by them, after this life, obtain 
mercy — for blessed are the merciful, for they 
shall obtain mercy. || To commend abstin- 
ence in oppositioj;! to gluttony, he says : 
*^ Take heed thai your hearts be not over- 
charged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and 

* Exodus xiv. 15. t Psalm ix. 17. % S- Luke xi. 41. 
§ Ibid. xvi. 9. II S. Matt. v. 7. 


that day come upon you unawaresJ^^ And 
He framed a parable of the rich man who fared 
sumptuously every day, who died, and when 
he was in torments, begged a drop of water 
from Lazarus, who was at rest after his death, 
and could not obtain it, receiving everlasting 
evil things in place of his temporal pleasure 
now gone by.f To commend chastity in op- 
position to lust, He says : " You have heard 
that it was said to them of old, Thou shall not 
commit adultery ; but I say unto you, that 
whosoever looketh upon a woman to lust after 
her hath committed adultery with her already 
in his hearty X By the leaf of these words our 
eyes are covered, lest if they should be too 
incautiously opened, that may perhaps take 
place of which Jeremias speaks : ^^ Death is 
come up through our windows y\ For the 
windows of our soul are the apertures of our 
.senses, our eyes, ears, nose, and mouth ; and 
by these, as by a sort of windows, death comes 
up, as often as they are opened to coveting 
anything criminal. By these and numerous 
other words, as by the shade of so many 

* S. Luke xxi. 34. + Ibid. xvi. 19, &c. 

X S. Matt. V. 27, 28. § Jeremias Vil. a\« 


leaves, we are sheltered by our Vine, the kind 
Jesus, from the burning heat of vices, and 
refreshed by the moderate temperature of 


chapter tJiu 


IHE shade of the leaves of the vine is 
generally most grateful when the 
vine is lifted up on a kind of frame 
of trellis-work* and stretched over it in all 
directions. Let us, therefore, see whether our 
true Vine was ever lifted up and stretched 
out, and consider if He then put forth for our 
protection any leaves of sweet words. That 
our Vine was lifted up. He Himself testifies, 
saying : ^^ I ^ if I be lifted up from the earth 
will draw all things unto myself: t and also, 
^*' As Moses lifted up the serpent in the 
desert y so must the Son of man be lifted t^p"t 
* Called in Italy ptr^ola. f S. John xii. 32. t IHdAil 14^. 


Now it is evident that this lifting up was said 
of the Cross. And see how appropriately the 
trellis-work frame, on which vines are usually 
trained, signifies the Cross. For they are 
interlaced, that is, formed by cross-pieces ; 
and so on these the vine is more conveniently 
raised up and stretched out. The wood of 
the Cross is interlaced, the good Jesus, our 
Vine, is lifted up upon it, and is stretched^ 
out by His anns and His whole Body. For 
so stretched out was He upon the Cross that 
all His members might be counted. So He 
speaks by the prophet : " They dug through 
My hands and My feet, they have numbered 
all My bones, ''^^' How He was dug through 
has been told above ; how He was stretched 
out is now added : " ITiey have numbered 
all My bones,'^ as though He would say: 
" So sharply am I stretched out on the right 
hand and on the left, and from above and 
beneath, that My body is stretched like the 
skin of a drum, and all my bones may easily 
be counted." 

Look upon the Face of thy Christ, O 
Christian soul, and lift up to His torments 
* Psalm xxi. 17, i8. 


thine eyes full of tears, and thine heart 
contrite ancf full of sighs, and see what 
great tribulation and sorrow He found, when 
He sought thee that He might find thee ! 
Open thine eyes that thou mayest look upon 
the Face of thy Christ. Listen with ears atten- 
tive, though in so much sorrow, for the word 
which He may utter ; and when thou hast 
once heard it, lay it up as a most precious 
treasure in the chamber of thy heart. Behold 
He is laid upon His cruel bed of death, His 
Cross. Treasure up the last commands of 
Thy Spouse if thou wilt obtain the inherit- 
ance undefiled and that fadeth not away. 
And they were npt,many words which He 
spake when He was dying ; they will be easily 
kept by the willing spouse of Christ. 


chapter \iiiu 


[here are seven little words, which, 
like seven leaves ever green, our 
Vine put forth when lifted up on the 
Cross. Thy Spouse is made into a. lute 
{cithara) for thee : the Cross has the form of 
the wooden part, and His own Body supplies 
the place of the strings stretched over the 
surface of the wood. For if He had not 
been stretched out and fastened to the wood, 
He would never have given forth that sound 
of words, as one of plajdng on the lute, with 
which thou mayest delight thyself for ever- 
more. Attend diligently. Thy Lute has 


seven strings. He sings to thee, He plays 
for thee, He invites thee to listen, whereas 
thou shouldest rather invite Him to speak. 
See, then, the leaves of thy Vine, and take 
heed to commit them indelibly to thy memory. 
These seven are sometimes variously arranged, 
and their order cannot easily be discovered, 
since they have not been arranged by any 
single Evangelist. We therefore arrange them 
according to what we have been able to make 
out for ourselves. 

From the narrative of S. Luke we know 
that when Jesus was crucified. He said; 
" Father ^forgive tJiem^ for they kno7u not what 
they do.'^''' O green leaf! O word [most] 
appropriate to the Word of the supreme 
Father ! The good Teacher practices what 
He had commanded. He prays not only 
for those who persecute and calumniate Him,t 
but even for those who are putting Him to 
death. Lay up in the treasury of your heart 
this leaf, that whenever your enemies rage 
you may be able to bring forth the memory 
of the abundance of the sweetness of Jesus, 
and ever oppose this leaf as a shield against 
* S. Luke xxiii. 34. f S. Matt, v, 4A. 

66 r/r/5 mvst/ca. 

the insults of your enemies. Christ prays for 
His murderers : will you not pray for your 
detractors ? 

But let . us examine more carefully the 
prayer itself. ''^ Father y^ He says. Why 
does He put the word \' Father T Children 
are accustomed to beg for anything in a 
more affecting way when they mention their 
father's name, so that they may call his 
natural affection for them to mind, and more 
easily obtaiu their request. So also our 
Redeemer, merciful and pitiful; long-suffering 
and of great mercy, and sweet unto all, 
although He knew that He was always heard 
by the Father, "^^ yet setting forth to us the 
aflfection with which we should pray for our 
enemies. He used a name of love. As though 
He said, " By Thy paternal love, in which 
we are One, I beg Thee to hear Me for these 
My murderers, and to pardon them. Acknow- 
ledge the love of Thy Son, and pardon His 
enemies." And so also He adds the reason 
why they should be pardoned : " For they 
know fiot what they doP What shall we say 
to this ? Were they ignorant that they were 
• S. John xi, 42. 


crucifying Him whom they were in the very 
act of crucifying ? No ; but they were igno- 
rant Who it was they were putting to death. 
For if they had known, they never would 
have crucified the Lord of glory."' They knew 
not what they did, because they knew not 
how greatly they sinned. 

Thus must you think, and thus must 
you pray, who desire to be called the 
spouse of the Lord. When your enemies 
rage against you, when they abuse you, 
threaten you, bring- evil upon you, even 
when they smite you on the face, yea even 
when they put you to death, remember the 
leaf of your Vine, call to mind the sound 
of your Lute ; follow, that is, imitate your 
Spouse, and say with your whole heart : " O 
Spouse forgive them, for they know not what 
they do : they know not how grievously they 
are sinning.'* For if they knew what blessed- 
ness they lose, what unhappiness they incur' 
by sinning, surely they would not sin. For 
what is it which prompts all men to sin, but 
ignorance of the good which is lost and the 
evil which is incurred by sin ? By sinning 
* I Cor. ii. 8. 
F 2 


the most good God is lost, the pain of hell is 
gained ; and such an exchange none but a 
complete madman wishes. Yes, truly, those 
who lose the delights of heaven and plunge 
into the pains of hell by sinning knowingly 
are mad ; therefore they know not what they 
do. Therefore we must pardon such for the 
sake of our own salvation, and for the sake 
of their ignorance, and we must pray for them 
with great confidence ; for such prayers break 
their way with [a holy] violence into the ears 
of the Lord. Surely He hearkens to others 
on a matter on which He Himself wished to 
be heard. And He was heard, since at the 
preaching of Peter, in one day three thousand, 
on another day four thousand, of those who 
had cried out for our Lord's death were con- 
verted. O what gladness is there in heaven 
when he who had been slain brings his mur- 
derer, and he who has been smitten brings 
his smiter by his prayers to heaven ! O what 
was the exultation of Stephen over the con- 
version of Paul ! who, by his prayers con- 
verted to the faith, as he had stoned him, was 
afterwards himself stoned" for the faith of 
* Acts xiv. i8. 


Christ, and endured for Christ many evils 
which he before had inflicted on the Saints. 
Let us also follow these examples in praying 
for our enemies, that for them and for .our- 
selves we may deserve to obtain everlasting 

chapter ir* 


ilHE second leaf of our Vine and the 
second chord of our Lute is the 
sacred word of our crucified Lord, 
whicl;i He spoke to the thief who confessed 
Him, and begged for fellowship with the 
Crucified One : " Amen, I say to thee, this day 
thou shalt he with Me in FaradiseJ^-' What 
greenness, what freshness has this leaf! O 
what sweetness vibrates on this chord ! How 
suddenly from an enemy is made a friend, 
ffom a stranger a companion, from an out- 
cast a neighbour, from a thief a confessor ! 
O what confidence has this thief ! Conscious 

* S. Luke xxiii. 43. 


to himself of every evil and of no one good 
.thing, a transgressor of the law, a violator 
both of the life and property of others, 
arrived at the very gates of death, at^ the 
end of life, with no hope for this present 
life, yet the hope of the life to come, which 
he has so often deserved to lose and never 
deserved to think of, even that he is not 
afraid to ask. Who will despair, when the 
thief has hope ? But it is worth while to 
look diligently at what manner of man this 
thief was, lest if we know not the cause of his 
hope, we may fall into the vice of pre- 
sumption. AH our Lord's friends and 
neighbours and acquaintances. His brethren 
also, yea, even His very disciples, who were 
unto Him as His own soul, chosen out of 
the world by our Lord Jesus Christ, in the 
trouble of such grievous straits, in the midst 
of such confusion and such outrages, when 
the Shepherd was stricken, they all were 
scattered abroad like sheep that 'had gone 
astray. The disciple whom Jesus loved had 
fled, that ardent [Peter] followed afar off; 
forgetful of the Divine miracles which they 
had so often seen t)ur SaviouT 'WOitV^ xsa.^^ 


which even they themselves had worked in 
His Name. And now a thief, in the midst 
of so many reproaches and miseries, yea, in 
midst of so many torments of the cross and 
of death, confesses Him whom he had not 
known before, and confidently begs help 
from Him who seemed Himself to be in need 
of help. Which of the disciples was in- 
flamed with such boldness? They all fled 
from Him, ^hom up to that time they had 
confessed while living; but this man con- 
fessed Him, while dying, whom when He 
was living he had denied. 

He prays, moreover, in faith, hope, and 
charity, saying: ^^ Remember me^ Lord^ when 
Thou shalt come into Thy kingdom,^^^^ He 
believes, then, in Him whom he calls Lord 
and King. And who ever begs for what 
he does not hope ? And he loves Him with 
whom he desires to be united. Why should 
that good Father deny such a petitioner, 
when He had Himself stirred him up to ask, 
especially when He was seated upon His 
nuptial throne on the day of His espousals ?t 
His nuptial throne was the Cross, in which 
* S. Luke xxiii. 43. f Cant. iii. 11. 


the true Bridegroom united to Himself His 
Bride the Church, and betrothed her to 
Himself with the shedding of His sacred 
Blood. Christ, therefore, granted the 
request of a soul, not now of a thief, but ' 
His confessor. His own spouse, and consoled 
the petitioner with an answer worthy of 
Himself: ^^ Amen^ I say to thee^ Verily, I say 
to thee, this day thou shalt be with Me in 
Paradise.'' To whom? To thee: "to thee 
who hast confessed Me on the Cross of 
torments: thou shalt be with Me in the 
Paradise of delights." With Me, He says. 
O wonderful kindness ! He does not say 
simply, "Thou shalt be in Paradise, or thou 
shalt be with the angels ; but thou shalt be 
with Me, Thou shalt have thy fill of Him 
whom thou desirest, thou shalt see in majesty 
Him, whom thou confessest compassed with 
infirmity. Neither do I delay what I pro- 
mise; for this day thou shalt be with Me." 
The good and sweet Jesus quickly hears, 
quickly promises, quickly gives. Who would 
despair [of gaining favours] from so kind a 
hearer, so swift a promiser, so prompt a 
giver ? We have hoped in Th^e^ \^\^^ Vnsm'^ 


known Thy sweet Name : for Thou never 
failest them that seek Thee. We, therefore, 
approach to Thee, O good Jesus, as near as 
we can in heart, now that Thou art seated 
on the throne of Thy majesty; and we pray 
that thither by Thee and to Thee we may 
deserve to be brought in, whither has entered 
that thief of Thine, who confessed Thee on 
the throne of the Cross ! 


Cljapter x. 


JET US now prepare both the eyes 
and ears of our hearts to contem- 
plate the third leaf of our Vine : 
" Woman;' He says, " Behold' thy son:'- .0 
word good and sweet! wonderful word, 
containing great affection of tender love! 
Certainly we read+ that our Lord Jesus, 
especially when He had reached His full 
age, kept close to His dearest Mother in 
familiarity, and with her ate and drank very 
frequently, and spoke to her more meekly than 
to all others. But how great the affection 

* S. John xix. 26. 

t S. Luke ii. 51, compared with chap. iii. 23, and S. 
Johnii. 1-5. 


of His love towards His Mother was in Him, 
when He was about to depart from her in the 
body, He has intimated in these few words. 
And, without mentioning the Passion of His 
Cross, with what exceeding compassion, 
think you, towards His blessed Mother was 
that most gentle Heart of His affected? And 
she too knew it to be stricken through with the 
sword so keen of her own sorrow. The 
Passion of His wounds was increased by 
His Mother's Compassion, when, with a most 
broken heart, with wringing hands, and eyes 
flowing with a torrent of tears, with her face 
drawn [in anguish], her voice tremulous, and 
destitute of all the strength of her heart. He 
saw her still bravely standing where He was 
hanging. How many times do you suppose 
she lifted up her bashful eyes to such druel 
sights ? Did she ever once turn them away? 
Or could she see through that great flood of 
tears ? How often, covering her head, alike 
from virgin modesty and from the immensity 
of her sorrow, did she stand there, as I 
imagine, and groan, bewailing her Son and 
saying : ** O my Son Jesus, Jesus my Son 1 
Who would grant me that I might die with 


Thee and for Thee, sweet Jesus my Son, my 
Son ? *' " How often, think you, must she 
have fainted for the immensity of her sorrow, 
for which I marvel greatly that she was riot 
dead ? She did die a living death, for living 
she bore a sorrow more cruel than death. 
But lest she should faint and die, her very 
mortality was strengthened by her Son. She 
was strengthened within, and externally she 
was consoled by kind words and deeds. 
How did His Mother stand by the Cross of 
Jesus ? Truly, by the Cross she stood, for 
the Cross of her Son afflicted the Mother 
with sorrow beyond all others. Others also 
stood, but she nearest. 

When Jesus, therefore, had seen His 
Mother and the disciple standing whom He 
loved. He said to His Mother : ** Woman 
behold thy sony And to the disciple He 
said : " Behold thy Mother ^ As though He 
would say : ** Thou art deprived of Me 
corporally : and hence I give thee My friend, 
beloved above the rest, for thy son, by whose 
presence, meanwhile, while I am gone, thou 
mayest be comforted. And thou [My 
♦ 2 Kings xviii. 33. 


disciple] art deprived of Me thy Father: 
and hence I give thee for a mother this 
Mother most dear to Me. Observe the laws 
of mutual love towards each other, thou by 
holding him for thy son, and thou by 
accounting her thy tnother." O how munifi- 
.cent art Thou become at Thy nuptials, good 
Jesus, our King and Spouse ! How liberally 
hast Thou delivered up all that Thou hast ! 
Behold Thou hast given to those who are 
crucifying Thee the affection of Thy prayer, 
to the thief Paradise, to Thy Mother a son, 
to Thy son a mother, to the dead life, to 
the Father's hands Thy Soul ! On the whole 
world Thou hast conferred miracles of Thy 
power ; for the redemption of Thy servant 
Thou hast poured forth, not a part, but the 
whole of Thy Blood from many gaping 
wounds ; to the traitor Thou hast given the 
penalty of his guilt ; to the earth Thou hast 
given Thy Body, not to be corrupted, but 
only for a time. 

Now it moves me that, when He had said : 
" Womafi, behold thy son; " He added : " Be- 
hold thy Mother;'' whereas, even if He had not 
added this, it would have followed as a 


necessity that she should be the Mother of 
him, who had been given to her as a son. 
But His doing this seems to me to commend 
the affection of charity on both sides. For 
there are some who wish to be loved by all, 
but do not embrace any with affection in 
return. They do not care to alleviate 
their labours and burdens ; and though they 
are stricken by many, they themselves will 
bear the burdens of none, &c. Not so did 
Christ either teach or act For He bore thy 
burdens, and invites thee on thy part to bear 
His burdens, that is to imitate His sufferings. 
For Christ suffered, leaving us an example 
that we should follow His Steps.'*' This also 
He taught when He commended His Mother 
to His disciple, and His disciple to His 
Mother, each to the other ; not willing that 
spiritual charity should remain cold by being 
alone, but that both lying together,! that is, 
both abiding together in pure and true 
charity, each should warm the other, that is 
that they should be mutually inflamed by one 

* I S. Peter ii. ai. 

+ If two lie together, they shall warm one another : 
how shall one alone be warmed ?— Eccles. iv. ii. 

8o ViriS MYSTIC A. 

another to the exercises of charity. For this 
is the effectual sign of a true and pure 
charity : that those, who in spiritual love are 
spiritually united by a pure charity, inflame 
each other to spiritual exercises, so as to be 
ready to pray more devoutly, to be more often 
on their knees, more frequently to take cor- 
poral discipline; especially, when the one who 
loves is not envious, but rather rejoices, if a 
third or a fourth or more unite themselves to 
the charity of him whom he loves. Provided 
only, that these be such as that their friend- 
ship be not suspected ; and that in all these 
and such like things they maintain perse- 
verance in the fervour of charity, since the 
river of charity that sometimes runs shallow 
does not appear to have had a good source. 
Let us, therefore, love one another, and prove 
by works the efficaciousness of our love ; for 
such charity is from God, and it is the end of 
the commandment, and the fulfilhng of the 

* I Tim. i. 5 ; Rom. xiii. lo. 

Cljapter xu 


|N the three short words upon which 
we have treated, three kinds of 
charity seem to be commended. 
One, which is maintained towards enemies 
who are even unwilling to. be reconciled, and 
of which S. John says : * * Let us love our Lord^ 
who hath loved us^^ when we were yet enemies f^\ 
and this is' the highest and most wonderful 
love. For to love enemies is more divine 
than human. The second, is that love which 
is shown to those who once were enemies, 
but who have sought reconciliation and have 
been received into favour, and hence S. Paul 
says : ^'' We are reconciled to God hy His 
* 1 S. John iv, 19. \ l^om. n, \o» 



Blood^'-' The third, is that love which is given 
to those who have never been enemies ; and 
of this the same Apostle speaks : " Let us do 
good unto all men^ but especially to them who 
are of the household of faiths \ Now the first 
kind of charity is commended to us . in the 
first word, when our Lord Jesus prays for His 
enemies. The second,^ where He promises 
Paradise to the thief who petitioned Him. 
The third, where He commits to each other 
His chief friends. Let us, therefore, cover 
ourselves with the shade of these leaves. 
Let us hear and hearken to these strains of 
our Lute in their most sweet harmonies ; and 
we shall refrain from the lust of all envy, 
hatred, and anger, and from all the bitterness 
of detraction, adulation, and deceit by the 
help of our Lord who is the true Charity. 
Him let us imitate in mind and in work in 
all these kinds of charity. 

* Ronii V, lo, 9. t Gal. vi. 10, 


Ctiapter xii. 


|ET us now apply both the eye and 
the e^r of our heart to see the fourth 
leaf of our Vine, and to hear the 
fourth chord of our Lute. This leaf requires 
keen eyes, this chord requires well purified 
ears i yea, it is itself able to purify and to 
sharpen both ears and eyes. P*or now out 
Lord Jesus does not simply speak this word 
as He did the rest, but, as the Evangelist 
testifies, about the ninth hour Jesus cried out 
with a loud voice, "Z^//, Heli, lama sabhac^ 
thani^^^ which is being interpreted, ^^My Qod^ 
My Gody why hast Thou forsaken Me ? '** 
* S. Markxvi..34. 
G 2 


What eyes cannot see this leaf, what ears can- 
not hear this chord ? What must have been 
the magnitude, think you, of that most bitter 
sorrow, when the Lord Jesus with all His 
Body stretched out gave forth this cry ? But 
beware that you do not imagine, on account 
of the cry, that the Lord Jesus fell into 
impatience. For though He was in the very 
deepest bitterness of the Cross, yet nothing 
went forth from His Heart but sweetness. 
In His bitterest suffering, as we shall show 
in the next leaf and chord, He retained His 
patience, and showed the greatness of His 
sorrow. And this wus exhibited beforehand 
in blessed Job (whose name signifies one who 
grieves), both in words and deeds. For, when 
he heard the words of the messengers, he 
showed exteriorly in words the bitterness of 
his soul. He rent his garments, and shaved 
his head, and fell down upon the ground. 
Behold the greatness of his sorrow I After 
this he said : ** The Lord gave, and the Lord 
hath taken away: as it hath pleased the 
Lord^ so is it done : blessed be the name of the 
Lord"'^ Behold the strength of his virtue of 
* Job i. 21. 


patience ! If Job patiently bore his miseries, 
how much more patiently, think you, did our 
Lord Jesus bear His Cross, for the bearing of 
which He had come ? 

That He spake these words in the person 
of His assumed Manhood, — and this was one 
and the same Person with Himself, God the 
Son, — is evident by that which He said : " O 
Lordl My God ;^^ for He who is one God with 
the Father would surely not have said this, 
unless He had assumed the Manhood. For 
what is this which He says : ** Why hast Thou 
forsaken Me 1 " Could the Father forsake His 
own Son who is One with Him ? God forbid. 
But in the name of His whole Body, that is, 
for Himself and the whole Church, He spake 
these things. For our Head, the Lord 
Jesus, wishing to commend unity and His 
own love which He has for the Church, His 
Bride, shows that He would suffer also in all 
His members ; and therefore He now bore 
the suffering in the Head, that is in the Body 
which he assumed of the Virgin. He who 
could not be forsaken cries out that He is 
forsaken; because many of His members 
were to come to such tribulation that tha^ 


should appear to be altogether forsaken by 
God. And their character He was bearing 
who said: ^^ They that watched for my soul 
took counsel together^ saying ; God hath for- 
saketi him : pursue and take him, for there is 
none to deliver him."'^ And this reproach 
was also made to our kind Jesus Himself in 
the midst of the torment of the Cross : " If 
Thou be the Son of God, save Thyself'^ 

It may also be taken to mean that our 
Lord foreseeing that there would be some, 
yea very many [in His Mystical Body] who 
would depart from the unity of His Church 
by heresies, or by other grievous sins. And 
so transferring their personality to Himself, He 
cried: ^^Why hast Thou forsaken Me? ^^ as 
though He would say — What ! has any one of 
these gone backward, so as to perish from the 
unity of My Body, who have been united to 
Me at the cost of such torment ? And thus in 
the person of the martyrs it is said in the 
Psalms : ** Our belly cleaveth unto the earth,'' f 
By the belly, which is the softer and weaker 
part of man, is signified those who, lacking 
patience and firmness of perseverance, and 

* Ps. Ux. 10, II. f S. Matt, xxvii. 40. J Ps. xliii. 25. 


on this account failed in the sharpness of tor* 
ments, and cleaved unto the earth, that is, 
-consented to earthly counsels and deeds. 
We, however, who are still exercised with 
daily tribulations, who are made a spectacle 
to the world, and to angels, and to men, 
who are made as the refuse of this world, the 
offscouring of all, even until now '•' — we may 
conceive unspeakable confidence of spirit, 
especially from this, that our I-,ord Himself, 
the Comforter of all who are oppressed, is 
joined to us in such unity of Spirit and love, 
that He deigned in such manifest words to 
transfer to Himself even the character of our 
infirmity ; and He even now intercedes for 
us with the Father by exhibiting His wounds, 
and prays still that He may not be forsaken 
in His inferior members, who could not be 
forsaken in Himself, their Head. How then 
shall those members perish who know that 
their salvation rests on the will of their Head ? 
In our mortal body is there any one member 
with which our head does not grieve [when it 
suffers] ? If the foot or the hand be afflicted, 
at once the head cries out with the tongue : 

* I Cor. iv. ^, 13. 


Why am I afflicted ? Our Lord cried out to 
Saul, raging against His members: " Why 
persecutest thou Me?*'-' while yet He Himself 
remained safe in heaven. Blessed be our 
Lord Jesus, who first in I lis own Person for 
us, and now in our persons with us, deigns to 
suffer the tribulation which justice demands 
that we should suffer, reckons it His own and 
cries \^^I am with him in tribulation^^ \ that we 
may confide in Him with more security. 

* Acts ix. 14. f Ps. xc. 15. 


chapter xUU 

"/ THIRST." 

[HE fifth leaf or the fifth chord seems 
brief; but if it be examined and very 
diligently considered it will be found 
efficacious in manifesting Christ's love for us. 
The Evangelist says : " J^esus, seeing that all 
things were accomplished^ that the Scriptures 
might be fulfilled'"'^ which were to be fulfilled, 
even those which say, " They gave me gall for 
my food, and in my thirst they gave 7ne 
vinegar to dri?ik"\ For the Evangelist adds : 
" Now there was a vessel set there full of 
vinegar, and one ran and filled a sponge ivith 
vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and gave 
Him to drink '^ % Another Evangelist, more 

* S. John xix, 28. f Ps. Ixviii. 22. J S. John xix. 2q» 


fully setting forth the manner in which the 
Scripture was fulfilled, also makes mention 
of gall, saying thus : " And they gave Him 
myrrh to drink, mingled with gallT''' When 
all His members were broken, our sweet 
Jesus would also have His tongue suffer pun- 
ishment. That strange vine, therefore, which 
was turned to bitterness, gave Him a bitter 
drink of its own fruit, a drink not to be drunk 
but only tasted j for it sufficed for the suf- 
fering of the tongue that He tasted the 

But, although these things were done liter- 
ally for the fulfilling of tfie Scripture, yet by 
this word, ** / thirst,'' something else seems 
signified. For it seems to me that in this 
draught He wished to commend the bound- 
lessness of His most ardent love for us ; since 
drink is much more ardently longed for by a 
man who is thirsty, than food by one who is 
hungry. Our Lord Jesus, therefore, by 
showing in Himself the desire for that thing 
which is most ardently longed for, showed 
that by it is symbolized the ardour of His 
love. Although we may also understand that 

* S. Mark xv. 23. 


He did thirst literally, for He was dried up 
throughout His whole Body by the shedding 
of His sacred Blood, and His bones were 
burned up like a potsherd. But it is not 
enough to suppose that He spake merely of 
bodily thirst, so as to beg for bodily drink 
when at the very moment He knew that 
He was about to die corporally ; for we be- 
lieve that He thirsted rather with the most 
ardent desire for our salvation. And that 
which moves us to think so is that, when 
the hour of His last Passion was at hand, our 
Lord Jesus went forth to pray, and He fell 
upon His face and prayed, saying : " O my 
Father^ if it he possible take away this chalice 
from Me;^'-' and this He said, not once only, 
but a second and a third time. By the 
chalice which He was to drink, without doubt 
He meant the Passion which He was to suf- 
fer; but now, when the same chalice has 
already been drunk out. He says : " I thirsts 
What is this? Before thou tastest, O good 
Jesus, Thou askest to have the chalice alto- 
gether taken away ; and after that Thou hast 
drunk of it Thou thirstest AVonderful art 

* S. Luke xxii. 42. 



Thou, I see, in Thy drinking ! Was that 
chalice of Thine filled with the wine of glad- 
ness, and not rather with the wine of com- 
punction and of the deepest bitterness ? Yea, 
it was full of the most bitter compunction, 
and such as should beget not thirst, but rather 
disgust of drinking. 

Now, as it seems to me, before Thy Passion 
Thou didst pray the Father that this chalice 
might be taken away from Thee, not that 
Thou shouldst avoid the suffering to endure 
which Thou hadst come, and without which 
there had been no salvation for the human 
race. But, lest any one should imagine that 
Thou, true Man, didst not feel the extreme 
bitterness of Thy Passion by reason of the 
glorious [hypostatic] union. Thou hast made it 
clear to doubters, by the words in which Thou 
didst ask once, twice, and three times, for the 
chalice to be taken away from Thee. • And 
also to us Thy followers. Thou hast left a 
pattern of teaching and example, that when 
perils are imminent, even though they are for 
our benefit, we may, and ought oftentimes to 
beseech the Lord, that He would vouchsafe 
to turn away the scourge of His anger from 


US ; yet notwithstanding, if they are not taken 
away, they are to be borne after the example 
of Thine own Passion, gratefully, patiently, 
and manfully. When, however, the chalice 
of Thy Passion, which Thou hadst before 
asked to be taken away, Thou hast now 
drained. Thou saidst '' I thirst'' Thou didst 
commend the greatness of Thy love towards 
us, as though Thou wQuldst say : "Although 
My Passion was so bitter, that as far as 
human feeling went, I could have turned 
away from it ; yet love for thee, O man, over- 
comes Me, and overcomes even the very 
torments of the Cross ; so that more torments 
and greater, if need be, I thirst to undergo. 
There is nothing which I would shrink from 
suffering for thee, for whose ransom I lay 
down My life." 

Therefore let every faithful soul imitate her 
sweet Spouse, Jesus, who for her sake both 
thirsts for and drinks out a cup of such bitter* 
ttess j so may she drink it out for Him by 
present adversities. And let her also thirst 
after Him, her most sweet Spouse, whose 
sweetness she will be better able to con- 
sider by contrast with the bitterness of th£ 


present life. And when these evils have been 
drained to the dregs for His sake, she will be 
able to thirst after Him with greater con- 
fidence, and to say with the prophet : " My 
soul is athirst for God the living fountain ; 
when shall I come and appear before the face 
of GodV * And again : ''For Thee my soul hath 
thirsted ; for Thee my flesh longeth^ O how 
exceedingly J ^^ + 

* Ps. xli. 3. t Ps. Ixii. 3. 


Cljapter vin. 


|N the sixth leaf of our Vine, or in 
the sixth chord of our I^ute, the 
virtue of perseverance is commended 
to us. For the Evangelist says that, when 
our sweet Jesus had received the bitterness 
of the vinegar, He said, " Consummatum est^ 
It is consummated."*'' What is this? It was 
said above that our Lord, seeing that all 
things were consummated, that the Scriptures 
might be fulfilled, said, "/ thirst;" and 
when He had tasted the vinegar offered to 
Him, added "//* is consummated J^ For it 
was consummated, that is, the testimony of 
the Scripture was fulfilled which says, " 27iey 
• S. John xix. 30. 


gave Me gall for My food: and in My thirst 
they gave Me vinegar to drinkJ*^* And by 
this every Scripture that there was concerning 
Him received its fulfilment. As, therefore, 
our Head for our sins endured the bitterness 
of His Passion even to the consummation, that 
is, to the fulfilment of the Scriptures that 
were written of Him, and patiently per- 
severed; let us also, if we would be members 
of this Head, in all our adversities preserve 
the virtue of perseverance, that the kind 
Jesus being Himself our Leader, we may 
come to the end of all our suflferings, and 
with Him be enabled to say with confidence : 
" Cofisummaium est. It is done." That is, 
By Thy assistance, not by my own virtue, I 
have fought a good fight, I have finished my 
course, I have kept the faith, t Render, 
therefore, to me that which by Thine own 
promise is laid up for those who strive law- 
fully for the mastery, even the crown of 
justice, which Thou the just Judge shalt 
render in Thy Day, that Day which has no 
cloud ; in that Day which in Thy courts is 
better than a thousand, \ in which Thou alone 
♦ Ps. lx\'iii. 22. t 2 Tim. iv. 7. } Ps. Ixxxiii, ii. 


wilt be the one and only Sun, — O Sun of 
Justice, kind Jesus Christ, shining in Thy 
strength, rendering Thyself as the everlasting 
reward for all who have persevered in the 
fierceness of the conflict ! For they shall 
receive from Thee everlasting glory, wherein 
they shall rejoice and be glad for evermore. 

But this glory no one can obtain, but he 
who shall have persevered unto the end. For 
perseverance is the strength of a good work.*'* 
To this alone is rendered the crown of justice. 
What does it profit to be good, to be wise, 
or to be powerful, if you have not persevered 
unto the end? Saul was good, nay the 
best; for the Scripture teaches that there 
was not a better man than he among the 
people of Israeli But to what did he come ? 
He fell and became a reprobate ; so that he 
obeyed not the voice of the Lord, he de- 
spised the prophet, he was vexed by an evil 
spirit, he persecuted an innocent man even 
unto death ; and at last he went to take counsel 
of a pythoness, and. miserably perished 
by the hand of a stranger. As to wisdom : 
who was wiser than Solomon ? And yet he 
* S. Greg. M. Horn. xxv. in Evang, \ i Klu^^vit, 1. 


fell away from the commandments of the 
Lord and joined himself to strange women, 
and built temples to their gods, or rather to 
their demons, in order that he might adore 
idols with them, becoming so much the more 
besotted and degraded in folly, as he had been 
before exalted in wisdom. In the lives of the 
Fathers, of how many do we read, men 
mighty in watchings and in fcstings, in 
labours above human measure, yea, even 
shining in miracles, who yet fell, because 
they did not persevere unto the end ! ^^Ife 
who shall persevere unto the end^ the Lord 
says, the same shall be saved '^^^ The end, not 
the fight, wins the crown. Praise the happi- 
ness of the voyager, but only when he has 
arrived at the port.t Hence the poet says :-- 

Coepisti melius quam desinis : ultima primis 
Cedunt : dissimiles hie vir et ille puer.J 

Oh, how justly may you be stricken with deep 
humility and fear, when you recollect that 
the highest of the angels with a vast multitude 
of his followers fell in heaven; that the 
Jrst man with his wife were expelled from 

"f- S, Matt. X. 22. t S. Maximi Horn. lix. 

X Ovid,, Hcroid, £p. ix« 


paradise ; that so many good and wise and 
mighty men in this earth of ours have 
perished, because they did not attain to the 
consummation of their good works ! One is 
more just than another, and yet he knoweth 
not whether he be worthy of love or hatred.* 
Wherefore? Because he knoweth not if 
he shall persevere, if he shall be crowned. 

There is, however, an efficacious remedy 
which we may apply to this fear : namely, to 
place our confidence, our hope, and our 
strength in Him, to whom the Psalmist sings: 
" Unto 77iee, O my helper^ will I sing; for 
ThoUy O God, art my defence ; my God, my 
mercy :"\ of whom Isaias speaks: ^* Behold, 
God is my Saviour, I will deal confidently, 
and will not fear: because the Lord is my 
strength, and my praise, and He is become 
my Salvation'' \ For whoever have fallen, 
they have certainly fallen because they pre- 
sumed more on themselves than on God. 
They built.the house of their intention upon 
the sand. And, therefore, when the tempest 
arose, and the streams of temptations beat 
vehemently, that is, persuading the appetite to 
* Eccles. ix. I. t Ps. Iviii. 18. £ Isaias xii. 2. 
H 2 


transitory desires ; or the winds of pride or 
vain glory blew, and that house of theirs 
fell, and all their works were destroyed: 
because they trusted in their own strength, 
and built it upon the sand, that is upon 
themselves." But we, laying a far better 
foundation, even that of which the Apostle 
speaks : " Other foundation no man can lay^ 
hut that 7vhich is laid ; which is Christ 
yesus;"\ upon that let us safely build good 
works; and these while they are fixed on 
that foundation cannot fall, until by His 
assistance who began the work they are 
brought to their due consummation. 

♦ S. Matt. vii. 26-29. t ^ ^o^* "^- ^^' 


Ctjapter xM. 


OW, then, let us consider the last 
leaf of our Vine, or the last chord 
of our Lute ; in order that we may 
commit it indelibly to memory, yea, and ever- 
more repeat it with unwearied lips. ^^Fathery^ 
says that good Jesus, ^* info Thy hands I 
commend My Spirit''-'' The letter is plain 
enough. But why is it that that Son, co- 
eternal and consubstantial with the Father, 
so openly commended His soul into His 
Father's hands, when it would have none 
the less been commended to Him, even if 
He had not said this? In the Gospel of 
* S. Luke xxiu. 46. 


St. John, we have it mentioned that, when 
the Lord Jesus was about to raise Lazarus 
to life, He said: ''Father, I give Thee 
thanks that Thou Juarest Me always ; but 
because of the people who stand about have 
I said it, that they may believe that Thou 
hast sent MeP* So, surely, was it 'now; 
Although He knew that His most holy soul 
was commended to His Father's hands, 
as a little before He had said : " The prince 
of this ^orld" that is Satan, " cometh, aild 
in Me he hath not anything '^\ Yet that He 
might instruct us, who are but earth and, 
ashes, to learn to commend our spirit into 
the hands of the eternal Father, that it be 
not, when it has gone forth from the body, 
caught by the prince of this world, who in 
us, alas! may find not a few things which 
belong to him. And thus He, who owed no 
debt to sin, yea, who had even come to take 
away sins, commended into His Father's 
hands His most pure Spirit when it was 
about to go forth out of His most pure Body, 
not, indeed, of necessity, but for the sake of 
example for us. And this we also shall be 
* S. John xi. 42. t ^^*^« xiv. 30. 


able to do in the hope of grace and mercy, 
if we have taken shelter under the shade of 
the preceding leaves : if we have listened 
with the ears of our heart to the strains of 
the chords of our Lute. In other words, if we 
pray for our enemies, if we forgive with all 
our heart those who are sorry for having 
sinned against us, if we render to each other 
charity to our neighbour, if in all tribulations 
we have hoped in Him, who for our sakes 
was made Man, that united to our nature 
He might be [God] with us, if with ardent 
longing we thirst for the salvation of our 
neighbours, and finally, if we shall have 
persevered in good works even to the end. 
In so far as we have done these things, we 
shall be able to say confidently to the 
Eternal Father with our Lord Jesus: ^^ Into 
TTiy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit J^ 
- Ever praying while we live, that in these 
words, with which He gave up His Spirit, He 
would vouchsafe to grant us also to give 
up our spirit, and efficaciously to commend it 
into His hands. 

Thus, according to our ability, ivQlmiftftjin 


as we ought, nor even as we wished, have 
we set forth to your charity the seven leaves 
of our Vine stretched out on high. And it 
is not sufficient merely to look at them, but 
we must rather draw near and sit under their 
shadow, that we may be able truly to say 
with the spouse: **/ sat down under the 
shadow of Him whom I desired^ * Of 
whom? Of that Spouse, the shadow of 
whose leaves are so much the broader than 
all others, as He the Spouse, the Word of 
the supreme Father, has words more lovely 
in vutues and nearer to salvation, more 
conformable to godliness, and more adapted 
for the minds of all. For, though in all the 
prophets and apostles^that good Jesus spoke, 
yet of no one at all will you find words 
which are so adapted both to the strong and 
the weak, that is to the learned and the un- 
learned, to the wise and to the unwise, as 
those most learned words of the Word, our 
Lord Jesus. For as a certain poet says : — 

Dulcius ex ipso fonte bibuntur aquae, f 

(Waters are sweetest drunk from the fount itself.) 

It must, however, be understood, that in the 
* Cant. ii. 3. fOvid., Ex Ponto, lib. iii. Ep. 5. 


shade of these leavies, that is on the words 
of the Lord, we must meditate day and night. 
And then, indeed, are we protected by their 
shadow, when as often as we are tempted by 
vices, or by the devil, we draw down to us by 
proper handling some word of the evangelical 
Scriptures, that by its admonition and authority 
we may resist the vices that rush upon us. 
For instance, when tempted by pride, viz., 
to wish to be first, to be unwilling to submit, 
at once there meets you the word of the 
Lord : " ITe who will be first among you, 
let him be the servant of all; '''■' for as " he 
who exalteth himself shall he humbled" so 
" he that humbleth himself shall be exalted^^ 
If the heat of anger infests you, you have at 
once a leaf of our Vine to oppose to that 
heat, even that word that " every one who is 
angry with his brother without a cause is in 
danger of the judgment :" I and so against 
every single temptation you will find words, 
by which you may be defended from the 
heat of vices, and duly preserve virtue, for our 
Vine itself, the kind Jesus, grants us His 
♦ S. Matt. XX. 27. t ^^id» x^^^^' 1^- XlbU^N. ai* 


Cfjapter ruL 


j]ET US turn our minds to the delight- 
fulness of the flowers [of our Vine]; 
yea, let us rise up indeed and see 
how our Vine has flowered.* For He has 
flowered indeed, and so much the more 
abundantly and more delightfully than others, 
as He is better than all. He, whose magni- 
ficence is elevated above the heavens, and all 
things are subjected under His feet; although 
constrained by love of us He was for a time 

♦Cant. vii. 12. Floruerit. The word yfowmA would 
not express the full meaning of the author in these 


made a little less than the angels.* For for 
this cause He debased Himself^ and toojc the 
form of a servant, and was planted in this 
earth of ours, and accepted the vileness of 
this body of ours. And then He shot forth 
branches and flowers and bare much fruit, in 
order that by His. union with our humanity 
He might unite us to His divinity. But 
since without a flower fruit does not come, 
so He our kind Jesus brought forth flowers. 
And what are His flowers but virtues ? For 
this Vine flowered wonderfully and in a very 
singular and extraordinary manner, not with 
one kind of flower like other vines and 
trees, but it contained in itself the form and ^ 
beauty of all flowers. Among the saints one 
is more chaste than another, one more 
patient than another, one more fervent in 
charity than another : but this Vine far excels 
all angels and men in humility, patience, 
chastity, charity, and all the other virtues. 
This true Vine then had not the form and 
beauty of one flower, but of all j the Violet 
of humility, the Lily of chastity, the Rose of 
patience and charity, and the flower of 
* Ps. viii. 2, 6, 8 *, H^\i. \\. ^i* 


abstinence which we may call the Crocus. 
How delightful, think you, will be the fruit 
of our Vine which flowers with such delight- 
fulness ? 

But now, with His own permission, let us 
say something special about each of these 
flowers. And we must bear in mind that 
flowers are chiefly regarded for their pleasant- 
ness to the eyes, and for the sweetness of 
their smell. They are not accustomed to be 
eaten, except that from some flowers the bees 
suck and collect a most sweet food. We 
said that no flower, that is no virtue signified 
by any flower, is wanting to our Vine. For 
what virtue can be wanting to the Lord of 
virtues — Domino virtutum 1"^' 

* Ps. xxiii. lo. 



Ctjapter rtiit 


illRST then let us look on the flower 
of Humility, that is, on the Violet. 
In what does the violet flower 
signify humility? Its size, its locajity, its 
perfume, its colour, and the influence of the 
flower itself show. For its size is small. 
What flower is less than this little plant ? So 
also are the humble small in their own eyes. 
For so says of himself that Apostle, who 
laboured more than all : ^^ I am the least of 
all the Apostles^ who am not worthy to he 
called an Apostle^^- See this great Saint, how 
small he was in his own sight ! And it is 
strange how it happens that those whose 
* I Cor. XV. 9. 


conscience is secure, who are not conscious 
to themselves of anything,* should yet come 
to think so humbly of themselves. The 
locality of this flower is near the earth, and 
well is it so. For thus you have the Apostle 
teaching: ^^ Not minding high things^ but 
consenting to the h7imble,^*\ They have not 
that property of this flower who think them- 
selves better than others, or wish to appear 
better than others, although they are small to 
their own selves. For there are some who 
in their own conscience do judge themselves 
to be low indeed, but yet outwardly they wish 
to appear better than others. These have the 
lowly stature of this flower, in that they are 
small in their own eyes inwardly, but they 
have not its humble locality, since they wish 
outwardly to be raised above others, and of 
these Solomon says : " -^ double measure and 
a double weight is an abomination to the 
Lord f^^X And in the law of Moses it is 
forbidden to have a double weight § Now he 
has a double weight who, conscious to him- 
self of evil, esteems himself bad, and yet to 

* I Cor. iv. 4. + Rom. xii. 16. 

X Prov. XX, 10. § Deut. xxv. 13—15. 


Others outwardly wishes to appear good, and 
better than others. 

The perfume of the violet is sweet and 
wholesome, because even among the proud 
themselves the praise of humiUty is extolled. 
For its good report is worthy to be praised, 
and the sweetness of its perfume is truly 
healthful; and sometimes by the praise of 
humility, the hearers are made better, though 
they be such as lose this perfume even if 
they regard it with love. Its colour^ as it 
appears, is poor, especially in the eyes of 
those who know not the virtue of the little 
flower; but, to those who are acquainted 
with the influence of the flower, even the mean 
appearance of the flower itself is commend- 
able and worthy to be loved. This we 
easily recognise in that Teacher of humility, 
our kind Jesus, according to the words of the 
Apostle : " ^^," he says, ^^ preach Christ 
crucified^ to the J^ews a scandal and to the 
Gentiles foolishness, but to them that are 
called, both yews and Gentiles, Christ the 
power of God and the wisdom of God^* 
Christ crucified is the Violet. For on the 
* I Cor. i. 23, 24. 


Cross He became the lowest of all. In that 
humility to those Jews and Gentiles who 
looked at the colour alone [the outward 
appearance] that colour appeared vile : but to 
us who acknowledge the power of His Passion, 
even that despised humility — ^the humility of 
Christ is pleasing, and by His humility He 
is all the more dear to us. Let, then, the 
poorness of the colour be made up for by the 
inward virtue of the flower that lies concealed 
from view j so that by means of this inward 
virtue that which outwardly appears vile, may 
not be despised, but may be loved fiie more. 
Now, then, with a more perfect and more 
purified eye let us gaze upon the blossoming 
of that singular Flower of whom it is written : 
" There shall come forth a rod out of the root 
of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his 
rootr* O good Flower, upon which the 
Holy Spirit the Lord resteth ! And although 
this flower is our Lord Jesus, who says of 
Himself: ^^ I am the flower of the fleld'^i — 
and who has within Himself the virtue and , 
beauty of all flowers without any diminution 
— ^yet on no flower is it so fitting, as on the 
♦Isa. xi. I. fCant. ii. i. 


violet, that the Holy Spirit should rest upon 

Him. And it is not I who affirm this, but 

He who says : " Upon whom shall my Spirit 

rest, but upon him who is humble and quiet and 

trembleth at my words V^"^ What can be 

more clear? He might have put the rose of 

patience and charity, the lily of chastity, the 

crocus of abstinence, when He wished to 

indicate the resting-place of the Holy Spirit. 

But He passed these by, and put the violet of 

humility, whose handmaids are quietness 

and fear. For violets, />., the humble, 

cannot be moved by the wind of pride; 

which always seeks out hearts high and lifted 

to shake them, as a certain poet says :t — 

Summa petit livor, perflant altissima venti, 
(As winds blow violently on loftiest [peaks], so envy haunts 
the mightiest.) 

But when it finds the humble, they can- 
not be shaken. And so they are .quiet, 
and do not shake away the Holy Spirit 
who resteth upon them, since they are not 
moved either by tlie wind of pride or of 
envy. Fear, too, is there : not fear of 
losing money, nor goods that pass away, 

* Isa. Ixvi. a. f Ovid. De remed, Amoris^ 


but fear of the words of the Lord, the hand- 
maid of humility. For while the humble 
man -presumes not on his own strength, 
he attends to the words of the Lord for his 
consolation, and ever fears lest he should 
leave the commands unfulfilled, or by trans- 
gression offend his Father who gave the 
command. Good, therefore, is this flower 
which brings forth quietness and fear, yea 
which begets security, for it is written : " He 
that feareth God will do good^^'^ and the 
reward for this well-doing will be everlasting 

Good indeed is that violet flower, which 
drew down the heavenly Flower, the Word of 
the eternal Father, into the womb of the 
earthly flower, the most Blessed Virgin, by 
the wondrous sweetness of its perfume, as 
she herself testifies : " My spirit hath 
exulted in God my Saviour^ because He hath 
regarded the humility of His handmaid,'' \ 
What sayest thou? Hadst thou no other 
flowers? I have, she says — ^for she is all full 
of flowers, wanting in none; because no 
virtue is lacking in her, since she is all fair 
• Ecclus. XV. I. fS. Luke i. 48. 


and there is not a spot in her.* She has the 
lily of chastity, because she first vowed to 
the Lord the vow of keeping her virginity. 
She has the rose of charity, because if she 
had not loved the Lord so deeply, how was 
it that she began so boldly, so confidently a 
new thing, while she was but a tender, bashful 
'little girl, and still under her parents' 
authority and bound by the precepts of the 
law? But, to say the truth, love made her 
bold : the glowing rose compelled her, 
swallowing up servile fear, so that she made 
a new vow, and the lily par excellence^ could 
say sqmetime to her Beloved : " I am white 
and ruddy, even as Thou art white and 
ruddy ! "t She has also some other flowers, 
but none of these did the Lord deign to 
regard in her with such predilection as the 
flower of her violet. ^^ For,'' she says, ^^ He 
hath regarded the humility of His handmaid.'^ 
And would you see how great she has become 
from this for which she has bartered all 
her flowers ? " Behold,' she says, ^^from this 
all generations shall call me Blessed, — Ex hoc 
beatam me dicent omnesgenerationes. Ex hoc^^ 
* Cant. iv. 7. ' -^ C-m^V^n . vi» 

1 % 


From this, I say, because I am regarded by 
the Lord. The flower of my violet j for my 
spikenard sent forth the odour thereof. ^^''^ And 
this signifies the same thing. as the violet, 
/>., the virtue of humility : whose fragrance 
has delighted the King, the King's Son, God 
the Son of God, when He was at His repose 
in the Bosom of the Father. And with such 
violence was He drawn to her by that 
delightful odour, that He willed to be con- 
ceived, — the Flower in the flower, yea, 
within another flower, that is, in Nazareth, 
which means Flower, that He JHimself 
might become the flowering Flower, that 
is, a Nazarene. Thus in the flower all 
meet together. The Flower abiding in the 
flower, that is, in Nazareth, is conceived. 
Good therefore, yea and best of all, is the 
violet flower, which with the fragrance of its 
perfume, as with a most delightful chain, 
drew down the Flower of heaven into the 
womb of our flower the humble Virgin. 

Let all then learn, and above all, the 
flowers of the world, the virgins who spring 
up in all the Church of God like flowers 
• Cant. i. II. 


among the grass, let them learn that the 
Virgin of virgins, the first of devout virgins, 
the holiest and the purest of all, placed her 
highest glory in the violet of humility ; al- 
though in her, in a singular degree, glistened 
the lily of chastity and blushed the rose of 
charity. Do not then, O virgins, glory in 
corporal chastity, though that be a virtue 
worthy of praise. But the more great you 
are, so much the more do you humble your« 
selves in all things, that you may find grace 
with God.* For it was not the chastity that 
the Lord regarded, but the humility of His 
handmaiden. If therefore you wish to be 
regarded by our Lord with the eye of mercy 
and the eye of grace, be humble. For the 
Scripture says, ^'Heglveth grace to the humble "\ 
for He regarded the humility of His hand- 
maiden. If you wish your lamps to be filled 
with oil when the Bridegroom comes to the 
marriage, — that is, if you would have a sound 
and happy conscience (for oil in the lamp- is 
spiritual joy in the heart), — do not mind the 
high things, boasting of the height of your 
lily, the purity of your chastity. Do not seek 
* Ecclus, iii. 20. -^ S. "^^xae^ \n » ^, 


exterior glory ; lest the door of the kingdom 
of heaven be shut, and the Bridegroom say 
to you, ^^Ameuy I tell you I know you not^^ and 
shut you out from Him who regarded the 
humility of his handmaiden. Many virgins 
will be shut out, for none of the proud ones 
will enter in. Yet of those who are humble 
no one, whether married,'or virgin, or widow 
will deserve to be expelled. The door of 
the kingdom of heaven is narrow, it takes in 
none but little ones. Those puffed up with 
pride are repelled, nay, they cannot even 
come near, of whatever sex, or condition, or 
age they be. And to speak briefly : no virtue 
approaches thither unless it be bent down to 
the violet of humility. For thus the Master 
of humility Himself says and teaches, when 
He called a little child to Him, and set him 
in the midst of His disciples and said : " Un- 
less you be converted and become as this little child 
you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven,'^''' 
Did He set there, for a example to the 
disciples, the lily of chastity S. John, or the 
rose of charity S. Peter, who were present 
then? No. The former of these, it is said, 

♦S, Matt, xviii. 3. 


was called and chosen by our Lord at his 
very nuptials ; and the latter, by his threefold 
confession to our Lord, tjie kind Jesus, whom 
it is impossible to deceive,* testified the af- 
fection of his perfect charity. For as S. John 
is commended for his special prerogative of 
chastity, so is S. Peter for his more fervent 
charity. Yet He set not these as the example 
to those who were to enter the gate of heaven, 
but one who was a little child, yet far advanced 
in the virtue of humility. 

Let us see then how greatly our Lord com 
mended in Himself this virtue of all virtues. 
First attend to His words where He says : 
^^ Learn of Me^ because I am meek and humble 
of heart; and you shall find rest unto your souls J' \ 
What is it, O good Master, Blessed Jesus ? 
Are all the treasures of wisdom and know- 
ledge hid in Thee reduced to this» that Thou 
shouldest teach this one thing, that Thou art 
meek and humble of Heart ? Thou dost not 
teach us to learn to frame the heavens, to 
work miracles, to raise the dead, and other 
wonders of that kind, but to learn that I am 
meek and humble of heart. Is that which is 
* S. John xxi, 15—17. \ S. M>.\X» -si* v^. 


little then so great a thing ? Even so; for by 
this is found rest to souls. For what else but 
that we may find rest to our «ouls is the 
reason of all our labour and struggling ? A 
short lesson, a short way is pointed out to us. 
Learn this from our Lord Jesus, who is meek 
and humble of Heart; that is, see how and 
why He was humbled. He who is the Lord 
high above all nations, and His glory above 
the heavens :* and learn also that thou art 
clay and ashes, and so thou wilt find rest to 
thy soul. But note that He says " humble of 
hearts* For He who is humble of Heart is 
pleased not with feigned humility, but with 
true humility. He who searches the heart is 
delighted with humility of heart ; for in the 
heart of the humble He taketh His rest For 
He seeketh the hearts of the humble, that He 
may lift them up : not the proud, from whom 
He will turn away. 

We said that two things were to be con- 
sidered, viz., how and why the Lord Jesus our 
yine was humbled. We' will now explain 
them both as is due to your charity. But the 
human mind fails, human reason despairs of 
* Ps. cxii, 4. 


reaching the extent to which our Lord 
humbled Himself, in His conversation with 
us. For how can you know the depth of 
His humility unless you could measure the 
height of His power? Say, What canst thou 
do ? Canst thou reach the measure of His 
glory, His power, His beauty? No angels, 
nor cherubim nor seraphim have arrived at 
this. For no creature knows God as fully and 
perfectly as He is. How much less man, or 
the son of man, a worm ?'•' And yet, though 
He was so great that of His greatness there 
is no e7tdy\ He stooped down so low as to be- 
come the son of ma?i, a worm, O the depth 
of that humility ! The incomprehensible God 
willed to be comprehended, the Supreme to 
be humbled, the Almighty to be despised, the 
perfect Beauty to be 'deprived of form and 
comeliness, the All-wise to be made like a 
beast of burden, the Immortal to die, and to 
sum up, in short, God willed to become a 

If therefore the son of man is a worm, truly 
is He also Himself a worm, for by His own 
testimony He is the son of man. He says : 
♦Job XXV. 6. \ Ps« cxliv, -i. 


" Whom do men say that I the Son of man 
amV Behold what kind of distinction He 
makes between man and the son 6f man ! He 
calls these men, who have descended from , 
the first man Adam through corruption. 
Wherefore Job said, ^^How much less man that 
is rottenness V^^' For in rottenness is cor- 
ruption. But He only is pure,t Christ the 
Lord, since without corruption He was bom 
of a Virgin Mother ; and so calls Himself, 
not man who is rottenness^ but the Son of 
many who is a worm. For as the worm is 
generated of the earth only, so is Jesus Christ 
of the Virgin alone. 

What higher than God ? what lower than a 
worm ? ^^I am a worm" He says, " and no 
man^X And why a worm? Because the son of 
man. For so you have in Job : " The stars 
are not pure in his sights how much less man 
that is rottenness y and the son of man that is a 
worm ?"§ Many have been humbled even unto 

* Job XXV. 6. 

f /. tf . , naturally, and of Himself. Mary's purity was not 
by nature or from herself, but " by a singular grace and 
privilege of Almighty God, in view of the merits of Christ 
Jesus, the Saviour of the human race." Definition of 
Pius IX., Dec. 8, 1854. 

"X Ps.^xxi. 7. § Job XXV. 5, 6. 


death ; but none ever yet went down to such 
a depth of low esteem as His, for none had 
ever attained* to such lofty dignity. Which 
of all good men who die could ever claim to 
himself what is said of Christ Jesus : " Though 
He was in the form of God He thought it not ^ 
Jobbery to be equal with God ?"*• None indeed, 
for none of men save Himself was God. 
Most profoundly therefore was He humbled 
' who alone, when He w^s in the form of God, 
abased Himself, and took the form of a 
servant, and reached such a depth of abjec- 
tion as to be esteemed by men no longer as a 
man, but as a vile worm. O how humble is 
that worm, Jesus Christ, who was made the re- 
proach of men, and the outcast of the people,! 
by men despised without cause, trampled on 
as a worm without resistance ! When he 
was reviled, He did not revile ; when He 
suffered He threatened not.J He humbled 
Himself to become man, to be subject to men, 
to His Blessed Mother, and His foster-father 
Joseph, § to Simeon who waited for Him,|| and 
not to the good only, but even to the wicked 

♦ Philipp. ii. 6. f Ps. xxi. 7. J i S. Pet. ii. 23. 
§ S. Luke ii. 51. J Ibid, v . ift. 


powers of this world, paying with Peter the 
tribute found in the fish's mouth.* In His 
baptism He was subjected to John, who ought 
rather to have been baptised by Him.t He 
humbled Himself, good and kind Jesus! even 
to wash the feet of His own disciples. And at 
last He humbled Himself and became obe- 
dient unto death, even the death of the Cross.J 
Whither further can we go ? He was condemned 
and died, not any death, but the d^ath of the 
Cross, — death the most shameful. See you not, 
then, how abundantly in our Vine, our kind 
Jesus, this flower of the violet has blossomed ? 
But what is the reason of such deep humili- 
ation in our kind Jesus ? It was not without 
reasonable necessity and just cause that the 
Son and Wisdom of the Father, who doeth 
nothing without cause, so humbled Himself. 
Why do we linger over many reasons ? 
For this cause was He made Man, that 
He might redeem man : He became weak, 
that He might heal our infirmities : He 
became poor, that by His poverty He 
might make us rich: He humbled Him- 
self, that He might exalt us : He delivered 
* S. Matt, xviir 26. f ^^i^- i"* i4» 'S- it Ph^ipp. ii. 8. 


Himself to death, yea He <iied, that He 
might give us life. Who in his sound 
senses will scorn to be humbled for sake of 
Him who was so humbled for us? And 
though there are many reasons which urge us 
to humility,— our shameful origin, our life full 
of sorrow, our end full of fear, the dread of 
hell, the hope of heaven ; and yet, if all these 
and all other reasons that there may be should 
cease to influence us, still the humility alone 
of our King and Redeemer, our most sweet 
Father and good Jesus, ought to be enough 
not merely to incite us, but even to compel us 
to the virtue of humility. Let us humble our-^ 
selves, therefore, and for the reasons we have 
enumerated, render some return to our Lord 
' Jesus,who humbled Himself for us. Let us offer 
and bear in our heart the violet of that same 
humility, with which He, our Vine, blossomed 
so pre-eminently : that He may recognize in 
us this His own flower, which He was pleased 
specially to commend in Himself, and may 
deign in the day of His visitation to exalt us 
with Himself, who is exalted above every 
name that is named.* 

* Eph. i. 21. 


Cliapter imiiu 


|HERE could not be wanting in our 
flowering Vine, the flower of the glis- 
tening white Lily,'*' the special glory 
of chastity. Among all the virtues. Chastity, 
by a special prerogative^ has deserved to 
be called the flower which is figured by the 
lily. And by the name of Chastity in this 

* I have ventured to read lilii candentts instead of lilii 
cadentis as in the original. The flower here treated of 
is evidently the lilium candidum. Botanical works do 
not mention any variety known as lilium cadens. S. 
Bernard, howevfer, commenting on Cant. ii. 2, says : "O 
cadens lilium/ O tener ct delicate flosT (In Cant. 
Serm. 48.) Yet, a little farther on he praises it for inter 
malignantes innocentice retinere candorem. If cadentis 
be the true reading, '• the drooping Lily" will denote the 
characteristic noticed in Chap. xxix. 


treatise, do not understand any kind of 
chastity, but that which is called Virginity. 
For there is also the chastity of the conti- 
nent, or of widows ; and there is conjugal 
chastity. But these are not any longer 
called flowers, for they have lost virginity — 
the flower of the lily. Those, then, who 
have not lost this flower, that is, virgins, we 
wish to be designated by the flower of the 
Uly, which is our present subject. And, 
when we say this, we do no injustice to the 
continent and the married. For when we 
praise the chastity of John, we do not blame 
the marriage of Abraham j neither when we 
extol the virginity of Mary, do we condemn 
the widowhood of Anna. But each have 
their merits, and yet there is no small differ- 
ence of dignity between them. For who 
does not praise the thirty-fold fruit in the 
married, and the sixty-fold in widows, although 
above these is far preferred the hundred-fold 
fruit of virginity ? 

On this grace, then, of the Lily, with which 
our Vine has blossomed, we are about to 
speak j and let us see, by the illumination of 
the true Light, why it is that so great a virtue 


is figured by the lily. And it strikes us at 
once, that it is on account of the purity of its 
whiteness, in which this flower surpasses other 
flowers. Hence, evidently, the purity of 
virginity is deservedly figured by the t)rpe of 
the lily. Besides, no other flower carries on 
its very face so much grace as this; and there- 
fore rightly is virginity, — the purest [virtue], 
and by all pious persons most in favour, — 
figured by this flower. With what praises shall 
I proclaim thee, O virgin brightness ? I am 
wholly ignorant. And yet, ignorant though I 
be, that pecuUar Lily may teach me, the un- 
created Wisdom of God, our Lord Jesus, the 
only Begotten Son of the Father, and the 
only Son of that special lily. His most chaste 
Virgin Mother, who, on the neutral ground 
between the old and new Law, consecrated 
the vow of perpetual and entire virginity. 
Let Him teach me, I say, how, by the con- 
sideration of the material lily, I may be able 
to learn the characteristics of the Lily of Vir- 
ginity. For the sake of these characteristics, 
then, let us investigate with care and dil- 
gence the material lily itself, in its root, and 
its stalk, in its leaves, and in those other 


floscules which are contained within it. For 
we hope that, when all these have been 
specially considered, we may be able to And 
a eulogium of perfect virginity. 


Cljapter viv^ 


jJHE root of the lily is remarkable for 
three things : it is white^ it is shining^ 
it \^ pliant. And what else is figured 
by the root hidden in the earth, but the 
thought hidden in the heart? By the whiteness^ 
then, of the root, we understand purity of 
thought. What is purity of the flesh without 
purity of thought? The Lord commands this : 
" Wash yoti^^ He says, ^^ and be you clean,^ 
And lest you should understand external 
cleanness only. He adds : " Take away the 
evil of yoiir thoughts from before mine eyesJ^ * 
For evil thoughts separate from God. And 
as the Truth Himself testifies : " Out of the 
* Isa. i. i6. 


heart proceed evil thoughts^ murders^ adulteries^ 
thefts^ blasphemies, and the rest, and these 
defile a manJ^'-' Thoughts are black or 
polluted when they are devilish, worldly, or 
carnal. When a man thinks himself better 
than another, when he wishes to appear like 
another who is greater than himself, or 
when he will not be subject to one who is 
set over him : these are devilish thoughts, 
because they were invented by the devil, and 
are more familiarly used by him than others ; 
so that the character of the devil is properly 
called pride. 

Worldly thoughts are those which ensnare 
the mind with desires after created things, 
that it may be too solicitously intent on 
acquiring them^ and when they are acquired, 
may be too much delighted with them, so as 
not to impart to the necessities of our neigh* 
bours, and thus become strangers to the 
charity of God, because it is written : " Who 
hath this world's goods and seeth his brothef^ 
buffering fieed, and shutteth up his bowels 
from him,kow dwelleth the charity of God in 
him ? '' t 

• S. Matt. *v. i^. t ^ ^« "ic^tcv'^vv- "^n- 



Carnal thoughts are those which draw men 
to luxury of the flesh ; as when men, with 
inordinate affection and delight, think about 
women, or women about men ; for foolish 
men presume to call that * love,* which might 
more truly be called * hatred.' There is also 
a luxury in meat and drink, when men seek 
more and more sumptuous and delicate 
dishes, only to gratify the taste, and not for 
the preservation of health. A man may use 
delicate food in moderation, yet it is difficult 
to observe this. The same judgment must be 
passed on those who long afl;er the wearing 
of delicate clothing. 

Now the characteristic of the lily, and the 
beauty of virginity is lost, if whiteness be 
wanting to the root, and virgin purity to the 
thoughts. For if the body be clean outwardly 
and the thoughts inwardly be defiled, it 
should no longer be called virtue, but 
hypocrisy. Yet, as S. Gregory testifies,* it 
is important to know that a thought, how- 
ever unclean, does not defile the mind when 
the reason does not consent to it. For who 
can so bridle his thoughts as never to be 

* Lib. xxi. Mor. c* 3. 


Stirred by any unclean suggestion ? But the 
rising of such thoughts must be at once 
repressed ; so that the more the enemy 
hoped to conquer, he may the more vic- 
toriously be conquered and driven away. 
And this takes place as often as, when we are 
tempted by bad and foul tjioughts, we have 
recourse at once to the sign of the Cross, to 
the remembrance of our Lord's Passion, and 
to the help of tears, and thus becoming 
valiant in battle, we strike the enemy with 
his own weapon. 

2. Again, the root of the hly is not only 
white, it is also bright or shining. Now, by 
the brightness or shining seems to be desig- 
nated gaiety of spirit. There are some, 
indeed, who do good works by compulsion 
or necessity of custom ; but they are not 
impelled to do them with any alacrity ; and 
this vice is properly called acedia — sloth or 
depression. And Religious are very fre- 
quently afflicted with this malady. For 
seculars, at least most of them, take no 
account of this vice, even when it exists; 
since, in bondage to the world, they har41y 
understand the name of a spuitual vice, 


although this vice is enumerated dmong the 
seven capital sins. But now we will speak 
to spiritual persons, who can understand 
this vice. The vice of sloth, or acedia, is 
that ^which inflicts a kind of torpor on the 
soul, so that all spiritual exercises seem to it 
as tasteless, and are changed into a heavy 
weariness. Of this weariness the Psalm says : 
Dormitavit anhna tnea pro tcedio — ^^ My 
soul hath fallen asleep through heavifiess,*** 
And again : " Their soul abhorred all meat, 
and they drew near tJu gates of deathr\ For 
when it is afflicted with this vice, the soul 
abhors, as it were, even all the food of good 
things, that is, every spiritual exercise, so 
that it can neither pray nor read nor medi- 
tate, nor practise manual labour. Yea, they 
drew near even to the gates of death, that is, 
they have such a disgust even for life itself, 
that they desire death to make an end of it, 
saying with holy Job : " My soul is weary of 
my life.^^X Now, this grievous vice is healed 
by gladness, or gaiety {jucunditas)y which is 
designated by the shining of the root of the 
lily. It restores the sick and dejected soul, 

• Ps, cxviii. 28. Mbid, cvi. 18. J Job x. i. 


Stirs it up to spiritual meditation, and gives 
back to it the desire of labouring, praying, 
and reading, so that it rejoicethas a giant to 
run its course, and says with the Psalmist : 
~*^ I have run in the way of Thy command- 
ments, when Thou hast enlarged my heart ^'^'^^ 
Since one runs in the way of God's com- 
mandments, when one's heart is enlarged, 
that is, when it is opened out by spiritual 
gladness. For the heart is naturally said to 
be shut by fear and sadness, to be opened 
by security and gladness. How appropriate 
is this virtue of cheerfulness think you, to 
consecrated virgins, who have despised the 
joy of this world and all secular pomps, 
for love of their Lord Jesus Christ, so 
that what they have not outwardly they may 
be filled with inwardly ? Rejoice, therefore, 
in the Lord always ; for vain joys you have 
cast away. Again, I say rejoice ;t for you 
have merited to cleave fast to the true 
Joy, and to have ever in the consciousness 
of your heart the brightness of hilarity. 
For God loveth a cheerful giver, and He is 
the special giver of true cheerfulness. 

* Ps. cxviii. 32. t Philipp. iv. 4. 


3. The root of the lily is also pliant or 
tractable, and by this we should understand 
the virtue of meekness. For we know how . 
many there are who excel in the virtue of 
chastity ; but who, for ever so slight a cause, 
yea, for no cause at all, have got into the 
way of being so disturbed, that they become 
exceedingly burdensome, both to themselves 
and to others against whom they are moved 
to anger, carrying about with them a mind 
ready to break out into bitterness at all that 
they see and hear. This is not becoming 
the virgin of Christ, who says and teaches : 
*< Learn of Me ^ for I am fneek and humble of 
heart^'^ and who promises beatitude to the 
meek, saying : " Blessed are the meek, for they 
shall possess the earth '^^'' And what then 
shall become of those who are not meek ? 
They shall be outcasts on the earth. And 
whence shall they be outcasts ? From that 
land of which it is said : " / will please the 
Lord in the land of the living'' \ What 
profit will chastity be to those who are cast 
out from that land? They, then, are not 
true lilies who are wanting in this charac- 

* S. Matt. V. 5. t Ps. cxiv. 9. 


teristic ; and hence they 'do not belong to 
that most perfect Lily, the kind Jesus, who 
says of Himself: ^^ I am the flower of the 
field and the lily of the valleys^^^^ Who are 
those Hlies who belong to Him? Listen, 
. ^^ As the lily among the thorns , so is My 
beloved among the daughters,^^\ Tractable 
and gentle is the lily, piercing and hard are 
the thorns. The lily loses not its gentleness, 
even though it be pierced through by the 
sharpness of the thorns. O how evil are 
they : daughters by the communion of faith, 
thorns by the bitterness of their ways ! You, 
therefore, if you would be a true lily, if you 
would be praised in union with your most 
sweet Spouse, be a lily among the daughters, 
among those souls who are with you in the 
same faith, the same religious profession. 
Even if they prick you with the bitterness of 
their ways, aifd the sharpness of their words, 
still among such be meek and tractable ; do 
not get angry at any of their words, but have 
forbearance, that you also may deserve to 
hear it said of you: ^^ As the lily amofig the 
thorns, so is My beloved among the daughters ^^ 
♦ Cant. ii. 6. \ Ibid^ v. a» 


And yet we do not say these things in 
order that all perversity may be suffered to 
pass unnoticed, or unquiet spirits be uncor- 
rected, or the proud be unrepressed. Yea, 
those who are such must come to be re- 
proved, in order that you who wish to be a 
lily may preserve the tractability of your 
root But, as the Apostle has it, ^^ Reprove^ 
entreaty rebuke^ be instant in season^ out of 
season^ in all meekness and patience,^* As 
though he would say: •'Be bold in exer- 
cising the zeal of discipline, yet so as not to 
lose gentleness interiorly in thy heart, in order 
that when recalling the perverse to his duty, 
thou thyself mayest not be perverted." The 
vices of evil men are sometimes to be 
reproved, sometimes silently to be borne with, 
according as you see expedient for the good 
of each ; for all sick persons are not cured 
with one kind of medicine. 

*2 Tim. iv. 2. 


chapter rr* 


I E go on to consider the stalk of the 
lily, in which three things are no- 
ticed : its uprightness, its strength, 
and its length. The stalk then of the lily, 
rising up from the root, is a good purpose 
arising from good thoughts. For when you 
think of things that are good, if these be- 
come fixed in you, like the root in the earth, 
you must needs purpose to bring what 
pleases your thought to the accomplishment 
of a good work ; and so you have at once 
the stalk of the lily or the good work, that 
is, a good purpose springing from a good root 
and thought. 

Cfi^tcr vvL 


\PRIGHTNESS is a necessary cha- 
racteristic of this, stalk of the good 
purpose; or, in other words, that 
we purpose to do good with a right intention 
for God, not seeking earthly riches, nor 
human favours, nor to excel in honour which 
passes away. For that cunning serpent, 
Satan, when he cannot prevent the beginning 
of good thoughts, lays snares in the way, 
so that he may overthrow the intention of 
the good purpose, and by twisting the stalk 
embitter the very root of the good thought 
Of these snares the Psalm complains : "/// 
this way in which I walked the proud have 
hidden a snare for me / " * O how many 
• Ps. cxli. 4 ; see Ps. cxxxix. 6. 


are caught and deceived by these snares! 
They make good beginnings, and then 
thoughts of outward things coming across 
them, they swerve from the uprightness of 
their good purpose, and become altogether 
perverted. And, having by their good works 
once obtained riches, or honours, or earthly 
pleasures, they have forgotten their first in- 
tention, auid seeking something else than 
God, have become idolaters, in that they 
have changed the glory of the incorruptible 
God, who alone is glorious and who alone 
ought to be sought after, into the like- 
ness of birds, beasts, and serpents !* How 
do they change the glory of God into 
the likeness of birds 1 Because the good 
works, which formerly they intended to do 
for the glory of God, they now labour to 
do for the vain glory of the world, having 
changed the uprightness of their intention. 
They change the glory of God into the like- 
ness of beasts^ when the good works, which 
formerly they intended for the glory of God, 
they afterwards do for the satisfaction of 
carnal pleasure. They change the glory of 
• * Rom. i. 23. 


God into the likeness of serpents^ when the 
good works, which should be done for 
heavenly riches only, and for promoting the 
glory of God, are performed in order that by 
them they may obtain earthly For 
by serpents, who eat dust, are signified the 
avaricious, who follow after earthly gains 
only, and desire with these to fill the belly 
of their soul. 

These are scandals, or causes of stumbling, 
which the devil hides for those who go in 
the way of an upright intention, in order that 
he may twist the stalk of the lily, that is, the 
good purpose from its uprightness. Alas ! 
Lord God ! who shall escape these snares ? 
Not to speak of seculars, see how many and 
what famous prelates of divers Orders, whom 
we know with an undoubtedly good intention 
once followed Christ in poverty ^nd naked- 
ness : and yet, when invited to dignities, 
albeit they ate attracted by them, they cor- 
rupt their intention, they spoil the stalk [of 
the lily], they change their purpose, and this^ 
not after a long period, but at onde. So that 
they williiigly beconie attached to the digni* 
ties to which they have been invited and have 


attained, desiring superiority rather than 
usefulness; in more dainty and exquisite 
dishes they serve the pleasure of their own 
belly rather than public utility or the Will of 
God ; sometimes they are even reported to 
heap up money, not to bestow necessaries on 
their spiritual children, but to lavish it pro- 
digally on their kindred, their nephews, and 
their friends. Oh, would that I were speak- 
ing falsely. Lord Jesus ! would that I were 
telling lies in this ! that I alone might be a liar, 
and all these might persevere in uprightness 
and truth. 

But for you, ' O virgins of Christ ! we 
think that the virtue of humility, which we 
so often commend to your charity, will gene- 
rally suffice to preserve the uprightness of 
your good purpose. For, while you are 
ascending to the lofty height of chastity, yout 
adversary, Satan, labours to turn you aside. 
He cries out to you often, yea for ever is he 
suggesting that word, saying: ^^Bowdowtty that 
we may pass over.^'^ What means bow down ? 
" Bend down to earthly things your intention 
which you had raised to heavenly things, that 
♦ Isa. li. 23. 


a passage through you may be cleared for us, 
that we may trample you under our feet." 
Consent not to thine enemy, O chaste soul 1 
O virgin of Christ, beloved of thy Spouse, 
spouse of thy Beloved ! Consent not : bow 
not down. That is, seek nothing earthly, — 
not the praises of men, not the honours, or 
the riches of earth ; for if you stoop to these 
things, that deceiver will pass over, through 
you, will trample you down and oppress and 
crush you, and lay the insupportable yoke of 
his iniquity upon you, if you cast off the 
light and sweet yoke of Christ. Oh how 
foolish are those who thus bow down the 
uprightness of their intention, and allow that 
most foul and wicked Satan to make them 
his throne, and cast off their first ruler, the 
most lovely and good Lord Jesus, whose 
yoke, as He Himself avers, is most sweet, 
and His burden most light ! 



C&aptcjc xxiu 


HE strength of the stalk marks the 
virtue which is called fortitude. 
Fortitude, as we understand it here, 
is a certain power of bearing up against all 
kinds of temptations, not only against those 
of adversity, but also those of prosperity. 
And this virtue is appropriate to the stalk 
of our lily, to the purpose of a good work, 
and especially to the vow of virginity. For 
the more praiseworthy a vow is, the more 
cunningly and strongly does the devil strive 
to hinder a good ending of that, in which he 
was powerless to prevent a good beginning. 
It is very needful that such a stalk should 
be able to resist cold. For cold attacks the 
stalk, or the good purpose, in the fona oC 

146 riTis Mvsr/cA. 

sluggishness — acedia. Now by this the elect 
arc at times so tried, that they cannot pray, 
or read, or meditate, or carry on any of those 
works which are, as it were, the means of 
keeping vital warmth in the soul. Since it is 
by prayer, reading, meditation, or even the 
exterior exercise of the body, that the powers 
of the soul are repaired, preserved, and 
strengthened ; and when these are cut oflf 
from it, it must needs languish, and relapse 
into a deathlike coldness. And then, all at 
once, in comes sensuality, and claims for 
itself a place in the cold soul, and warms it 
after a most pernicious manner with its 
unholy fire. Hence, our lily, the virgin of 
Christ, must without ceasing pray and read 
and meditate, or else do some exterior work, 
so that in her the stalk of the good purpose 
may not be corrupted. For these things, as 
St. Augustine says," if they are done with 
discretion, so as not to destroy the bodily 
health, turn into spiritual delights. 

The warmth by which the stalk of a good 
purpose is corrupted, is worldly prosperity, in 
which too many hostile snares lie concealed 

^DtBwQ Vidtt. c. xxl 


For we find many who stand firm against 
adversity: because then the temptation is 
manifest. But, when the body is healthy, 
when the trials of the mind which wear it and 
temptations are quelled, what remains but 
security ? Take care ! take care ! woe to 
this security, woe to this peace, of which 
the Truth himself says : " When a strong 
man armed keepeth his courts those things 
which he possesseth are in peace,'* * Fear 
then. When all things are prosperous and 
quiet, lest that strong man armed, Satan, 
have thee in undisturbed possession. Say 
'not with thyself what that rich man said, 
whose fields brought forth abundant fiiiit : 
" My souly thou hast much goods laid up for 
many years : eaty drink, and be merry "\ For 
when they shall say peace and security, then 
shall destruction come upon them, and they 
shall not escape. | But thou, if thou wilt have 
peace and true security, take care that thou 
never be secure. And know for certain, that 
you have nothing so much to fear as present 
security, which inevitably brings forth eter- 
nal feaf. For you are not better than all 
'I'S. Luke xi. 21. \ Ibid, xii. 19. 'X.iT\kRS&»N.'>^. 
L 2 


the Saints, who were proved and tried by 
temptations. Who is better than holy Job, 
to whom the Lord Himself gave testimony 
that he was "« simple and upright man^ 
fearing God and avoiding evil, and there 
was none like him in the earth^^ V^"- See the 
same thing in all those who fear God, the 
apostles, the martyrs, how great torments 
they suffered that they might arrive securely 
at the reward of the kingdom, — quanta passi 
sunt tormentay ut semri pervenirent ad palmam 
regnii\ — who became valiant in battle, | not in 

The storms that rage against the stalk of 
our lily are manifest adversities. And in 
these there is one single rare remedy,— 
even that best Physician, that Guide who 
leadeth not astray, the King who exalts His 
subjects, the most strong Athlete who fights 
and conquers in His own and for His own, 
and then crowns them as conquerors, — out 
Lord Jesus. What seekest thou, which thou 
wilt not find in Him ? If thou art sick, He is 
thy Physician. If thou art a wanderer. He is 
thy Guide. If thou art desolate. He is thy 
* Job i. I. t First Antiphon for Martyrs. J Heb. xi. 34. 


King. If thou art assaulted, He it is that 
fighteth for thee. If thou art athirst, He is 
drink indeed. If thou feel the cold, He is 
thy covering. If thou art sad, He is Joy. 
If thou art in darkness, He is thy Light. If 
thou art an orphan, He is thy Father. He 
is thy Spouse, thy Friend, thy Brother, the 
chiefest, the most merciful, most strong, 
most fair, most wise, who ruleth all things 
without end. Why do I labour thus? All 
that thou canst and oughtest to wish for, our 
Lord Jesus is. Desire Him, seek Him. For 
this is that one Pearl of great price, to buy 
which all that thou hast is to be sold ;* and 
when thou hast possessed thyself of it, thou 
will not fear the blast of any tempest. Let 
Him be the end of thy purpose, let thy 
strength be rested on Him and not in thine 
own powers, and thou shalt in no wise be 
broken j for He Himself and not another is 
the truest and best consoler in all adversities 
and straits. 

*S. Matt. xiii. 46. 


Cliapter niiu 


j HE worms which corrupt the stalk of 
the good purpose are inward temp- 
tations : whicli, being nearer in pro- 
portion as they are more familiar, often 
corrupt the good purpose uhder the 
appearance of virtue. Take . a person who 
from the root of a good thought has put 
forth the stalk of a good purpose. He 
purposes to leave all things that are of 
the world, that in poverty and nakedness 
he may follow Christ, who was stripped of 
all.'*' But there springs up within him the 
worm of an evil suggestion, saying, " Your 

* Ut nudus Christum nudum sequatur. 


sister has no dowry, your mother is poor. 
Or perhaps, your brothers, or your sons, or 
some other of your friends are in want of 
means, and they are solely dependant on you, 
and look to you as their only hope. If you 
leave them, they will then fall into shameful 
beggary, to the great disgrace of your 
family ; or else they will be sure to lay hands 
secretly or openly on others' property, and 
so perish both in body and soul. And 
if you, who might have assisted them had 
you remained in possession of your property, 
shall be seen to have shut up your bowels 
against them,, how dwelleth the charity of 
God in you }-^ Therefore, in order that you 
may abide in charity, abide with them ; since 
without charity nothing whatever you may do 
will profit you.t And even if it might have 
profited you, still it is better that you should 
save many others with you than only your- 
self. Is it anywhere commanded by our 
Lord that the world should be wholly given 
up by everyone ? Nay, rather the elect will 
be commended and saved in the day of the 
last account by works of mercy. Why then do 
* I S. John iii. 17. \ i Cor. xlvu -j^. 


you seek out of the world that which you might 
have better and more safely in the world?" 

To these worms succeed other deadly , 
worms, suggesting the hardness of the rules 
of the cloister, and that the higher the step 
the greater is the fall ; stint in food, fasts, 
vigils, intolerable labour without any rest, 
hardness of beds, unremitting toil, and above 
all the entire renunciation of your own will, 
and that with the peril of false brethren and 
of hard superiors. Who will enumerate them 
all? Numberless are these worms of the 
worst suggestions, which do most grievously 
eat away the stalk of the good purpose. 
These worms must be resisted altogether, 
and must be killed outright by the arguments 
of the Holy Scriptures. 

Now the worm, which so indiscriminately 
urges to charity and merciful compassion, 
must be killed with the ointment of our 
Lord's judgment, which says : ** If any man 
ome to Me, a?id hate not his father, and 
mother, and wife, and children, and brethren^ 
and sisters, yea and his own life also, he is not 
worthy of Me.'' * How they are to be loved 

^ S. Luke xiv. 26. 


and how they are to be hated, we are taught 
by the cows that drew the cart with the 
Ark of the Lord upon it, while their calves 
were shut up at home. These cows, bearing 
the Ark and taking the straight way to 
Bethsames, when they heard the voices of 
their calves, gave forth lowings indeed as a 
sign of natural affection, and yet ^* turned not 
aside, neither to the right hand nor to the ieft,^^^ 
from the way they had once taken. So you, — 
if you already, either by open and solemn 
profession, or by a secret purpose, bear the 
Lord's yoke, that is, some rule instituted by 
our fathers through the Holy Ghost,-^if the 
suggestions of these same worms begin to 
fasten upon you, imitate the cows of the Philis- 
tines that carried the Ark of the Lord. Utter 
a lowing, a sign of affection, that is, condole 
with, sympathise with, and console those who 
are united to you in natural affection. Never- 
theless, keep on the way you have started, 
fulfil your good purpose by directing your 
feet towards Bethsames, towards the * house 
of the sun,* in other words to the heavenly 
country where is the most high and spiritual 
♦ I Kings vi. la. 


habitation of our Sun, the Lord Jesus ; who 
is the Sun of Justice, who in that house 
shineth in His own strength, dwelling in the 
light which no one can approach unto. So 
are friends to be hated, as that loving affec- 
tion towards them may be preserved : so are 
they to be loved, that their love may be never 
preferred to the love of God ; yea, not even 
our own lives should we indulgently prefer 
to the love of Him ; but, as hating our lives, 
afflict them with fastings, watchings, and 
disciplines, that we may teach them to obey 
our Lord's commands. And those, whose ne- 
cessities we might have supplied by remaining 
in the world, we shall commend for preserva- 
tion to the same Lord, who is King of kings 
and rich unto all that call upon Him, 
praying Him so to order their condition in 
life as He knoweth shall be most expedient 
for their salvation. 

Again, the worms that suggest the hard- 
ness of a life by rule will be speedily killed, 
if we take care to anoint our minds with 
myrrh, that is, with the bitterness of our 
Lord's Passion, compared with which what- 
ever we may have to suffer can only be 


accounted as little or nothing. These worms, 
however, are especially busy against the pur- 
pose of keeping virginity, because the master 
of worms, Beelzebub,'''' who in the beginning 
easily overcame the virgin Eve, now naturally 
grieves to find himself so often overcome by 
young virgins of both sexes. 

See, therefore, take heed and beware of 
the worms that lie in wait for you, O virgin 
of Christ ! For though sometimes you may 
think you have already attained, or will 
easily attain to the perfect stature of the 
chaste lily, yet still shake off and drive 
from you these worms of suggestions that 
are hurtful, and that threaten alike the 
stalk and the root of your lily, and say to 
you by way of suggestion,! ** What are you 
doing ? Whither are you turning ? Will you 
destroy the flower of your youth ? Will you 

* The Lord of flies. 

t Thus the evil spirits assaulted S. Catharine of Siena, 
and whispered : • ' Why, poor little one, will you torture . 
yourself, and so uselessly? Why use all these mortifica- 
tions — do you suppose you can be able to continue them 
— \vill you not thus destroy your body and become guilty 
of suicide ? It is better to renounce these follies ere you 
become their victim ; you can yet enjoy the world, you 
are young, and your body would speedily recover its 
strength. You desire to please God ; but there are many 


never know the sweetness of the marriage- 
bond ? Will you never have dear sons and 
daughters to be the solace of your life, and to 
survive you ? Will you not want the service 
of faithful attendants ? It is a foolish way 
you are going j follow the example of your 
parents who begot you. Do you also have 
children and enjoy marriage after the Lord's 
command, for concerning virgins He did not 
give commandment." '•' 

Insidious worms are these, O virgin of 
Christ, and you must spit upon them with 
contempt. If you care to escape them, 
mark very diligently, O virgin soul, who and 
what is Jesus Christ Was he a virgin or a 
married disciple to whom He committed 
His Virgin Mother, and whom He loved with 
special tenderness ?t What need of many 
words ? A Virgin is Christ Jesus, bom of a 

among the saints who were married, as Sarah, Rebecca, 
Leah, and Rachel. Why be so imprudent as to select a 
mode of life in which you cannot persevere? " S. Catha- 
rine put to flight these and similar temptations with the 
answer : " I have chosen sufferings for my consolation ; 
not only will it not be difficult for me, but even delightful 
to undergo similar afflictions, and even greater ones for 
the love of my Jesus, and as long as His Majesty wills." 
—Life ofS. Catharine, pp. 69, 71. 

* I Cor. vii. 25. t S. John xix. 26, 27. 


Virgin, and her He committed to a most pure 
virgin, even to S. John, whom the special 
prerogative of chastity had made worthy 
of niore abundant love. This Jesus Christ, 
your Spouse, is to be followed by you rather 
than your own parents, if you would pre- 
serve the youthful bloom of your soul from 
ever growing old. For virginity never fadeth 
away. Even if it were a question of the 
bloom of the body, do not those who are 
virgins, in body and soul, keep their bloom 
longer than those who are not virgins?* 
Yea, and still more do virgins in body and 
soul bloom truly, the special lilies of the one 
Lily. And He, as I firmly hope, even in 
this mortal life, lavishes the abundance of 
His sweetness more abundantly on His lilies 
'than on others, for in them He sees His 
own likeness more distinctly expressed. 
Since whithersoever Christ goeth, virgins fol- 

♦ '* It is the special attribute of monastic life to trans- 
figure human nature, by giving to the soul that which is 
almost always wanting to it in ordinary existence. . . . 
And sometimes . . it adds by a supernatural gift the in- 
comparable chanri of childhood, with its artless and 
endearing candour ; then m&y be seen upon a living 
countenance that simplicity in beauty, and- that serenity 
in strength, which are the most lovely array of genius and 
\\ri\xQ "^Montalembertt Monks of UTest, Vol. v. p. ^S2» 


low: and they become fruitful, and conceiving 
by His Spirit a good purpose, they bring forth 
good works which never die. The genera- 
tion of earth is conceived in sin, brought forth 
in sadness, nourished in anxiety, and at last 
is lost or left behind with sorrow. Not such 
are thy children, O virgin of Christ! not 
so. For they shall never die, they shall 
never be lost ; yea, whether thou live or die 
they shall ever follow thee, ever defend thee, 
and bring thee to life eternal Many more 
and far better are the children of the desolate, 
that is, of Christ's virgin, who for the present 
appears desolate, than of her who hath a 
carnal husband.'*' If you often bring these 
and things like these to mind, the worms 
of evil suggestions will of a certainty die in 
you, and by the aid of your Spouse, will not 
in any way prevail to eat away the stalk of 
your good purpose. 

* Isa. liv. I. 


chapter mti* 


|HE ietigth of the stalk in the lily 
which is lifted up on high, suggests 
the virtue of long-suffering, which is 
highly necessary for those who wish to per- 
severe. But as we have spoken of the virtue 
of perseverance at considerable length above, 
in treating of the sixth leaf of the Vine,* we 
may say something here more briefly. And 
this virtue appears most of all to be com- 
mended in virgins, especially of the female 
sex, in whose minds as well as bodies there 
is naturally a certain infirmity of purpose and 
weakness opposed to long-suffering and per- 
severance. . But blessed be God, who, even 
in this our day hath chosen the weak things 
♦ Chapter xiv. 


of the world to confound the mighty; and 
has set Himself forth to the minds of the 
most tender youthful virgins as their defen- 
der, to bruise the head of that first and most 
powerful destroyer, I mean the old serpent, 
who lays snares for the most humble virgins 
of Christ ! Who in his sound senses does not 
leap for joy, when, even in our own times, he 
sees so many bands of virgin lilies with such 
strength,— not theirs but their Spouse's,— 
bravely contending against the fiiry of the hate- 
ful dn^on, and meriting the triumphal crown? 
I indeed rejoice, that now both in villages, 
and towns, and cloisters, there is no lack of 
these lilies. Yea, since even many lands that 
were desolate and impassible, are filled with 
virgins' cloisters, it may be truly said the 
wilderness buds forth and blossoms the sweet 
odour of our Lord.=^ For young virgins go 

» Isaias xxxv. 2. Thus wrote the monk of the 12th 
century. Montalembert writes of the present day: 
"Never since Christianity existed have such sacrifices 
been more numerous, more magnanimous, more spon- 
taneous, than now. Every day since the commenrgment 
of this century, hundreds of beloved creatures have come 
forth from castles and cottages, from palaces and work- 
shops, to offer unto God their heart, their soul, their 
virgin innocence, their love and their Mi^r— Monks of the 
West. Vol. v. p. 353. 


up from the desert, flowing with the delights • 
of virtues, leaning not on themselves, but on 
their Beloved,* and perse veringly waiting for 
their Spouse, until He comes ; that when the 
cry shall be made, they may trim their lamps 
and enter with Him into the everlasting nup- 
tials, when joy and gladness shall be heaped 
upon them, and the Lord our God shall give 
them to inherit an everlasting name. 

You then, O virgin of Christ, faint not in 
waiting for Christ. For He, your Spouse, 
will come most quickly; and He delayeth 
His coming in order that, with the reward of 
your other good works, He may give you the 
crown of them that wait for Him. I know, 
though I have not experienced it, how you 
groan, and how you are stricken with com- 
punction in that pure chamber of your heart. 
Faint not in your good purpose, that you 
may be able to reach the consummation of 
the good work, even perseverance, through 
which you will merit the everlasting crown. 

* Cant. viii. 5. 


chapter rrti. 


Bow let US see what is to be noticed 
about the leaves which are round 
the stalk. Leaves, then,- as we have 
said above on the leaves of the vine, signify 
words. And, as to these • leaves, it is to be 
remarked that they are always green: and 
lower down near the earth they are larger 
and more abundant than on the higher part ; 
moreover, when they are applied to swellings 
they break and reduce them. Verily, the 
words of virgins ought to be like these leaves. 
The greenness of the leaves signifies the vir- 
tue of their words : viz., that no word should 
come forth from the mouth of Christ's virgin 
which does not contain in it some virtue : 


that here should be cut off not only shameful, 
scurrilous, jocose, sensual, proud, angry, de- 
tracting, and flattering words, but even super- 
fluous words. For the superfluous word, that 
is the idle word, is a dry leaf. But the dry leaf 
is not the lily's leaf. If then you would be a 
lily, have virtuous words; green leaves of 
which it is said : ^^ Bis leaf shall not wither. ^^* 
Would you see what the idle word, the dry 
leaf is? Hear the very Truth, our Lord 
Jesus: ''^ Every idle word which men shall 
speaky they shall give an account thereof in the 
day of judgments \ Oh what terror 1 The 
most wise Judge, who numbers all the drops 
of rain, who discerneth all the thoughts of 
every man from Adam first even to the last 
man that shall be in the end of the world ; 
He will have an account of all idle words j 
when He shall sit on the throne of the 
majesty of His judgment, where they shall 
sing to the Lord no longer of mercy, but of 
judgment. What shall we wretched and miser- 
able sinners do? Thou, O Lord, art most 
wise \ Thou canst not be deceived ! Thou 
art most just; Thou canst not be corrupted ! 
* Ps. i.'3. t S. Matt. m. -2^6. 

M 2 • 

tii VITIS MirSTlCA. 

The time for mercy will then be past, for 
Thou shalt judge the world in equity; Thou 
sbalt judge thy people in justice, who hast 
received them first in mercy. What then 
shall I do ? Have mercy on me, I beseech 
Thee, O Father of mercies, while it is the 
time for mercy, that Thou judge me not in 
the time of judgment. Set a guard upon my 
mouth, and a door round about my lips, that 
I may turn away not only from evil speaking 
and shameful words, but may avoid even idle 
words ; that I may not have to render an 
account of them in the day of judgment, 
when an' account must be given not of good 
and green leaves of words, but of evil and 
dry ones* 

But what is an idle word ? An idle word, 
according to S. Gregory,* is a word which 
has neither the reason of a just necessity, nor 
the intention of pious usefulness. Whatever, 
therefore, you say, without intending any 
profit to any one, is an idle word. ^Vho then 
can render an accoimt of all such words ? 
Therefore let e^*ery man bridle his tongue, but 
t«j>ecially let Christ^s virgins do so : that they 

• Mcr. lib. vii. c. tJJ. 


may know when and how they may speak. 
For it is not becoming that from the mouth 
which is to'sing the new song to her Spouse, 
any word should come forth contrary to that 

What, then, is the new song? The Song 
of Charity. And' wherefore new? Because 
at the beginning of the world there was an 
old song, sung by the first created beings ; a 
song contrary to charity. Would you know 
it ? The angel who was about to fall sang in 
heaven the song of pride, saying : ^^ I will 
set my throne in the norths and I will be like 
the Most High''-^ Afterwards he sang in 
Paradise the song of detraction, when he 
came to the woman and said : *' Why hath 
God CQ7nmanded you that you should not eat of 
the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?"\ 
As much as to say, " It was with a bad motive 
He forbade you.'' The woman sang the song 
of doubting, and said : ^^ We should not eat qf 
it lest perhaps we shall die "I O thdX perhaps I 
what infirmity has it brought upon us ! The 
devil seeing the woman doubting, broke forth 
into the song of lying, and said : " Ye shall 
* Isa. xiv. 13, 14. t Gen. iii. i. t-^^'^* v, 3,, 


not die the deathJ^* O wicked, wicked one ! 
where is now thy not ? Behold they are dead 
with a double death whom thou didst say 
should ;/^/ die ! The evil and the old song 
was this word contrary to truth. For God 
had said : " /;/ the day that you eat thereof^ 
you shall die the death,'^\'Yiz,, the death of 
the soul; or, as others expound it, " You shall 
die — />., you shall become mortal, so that then 
you shall be under the necessity of dying, 
whereas now you have the power of not 
d3dng," For had they persevered in obedience, 
they would not have died. Adam also sang 
the song of making excuses in sinj when he 
said : " The woman whom Thou gavest me to be 
my companion f she gave to me and I did eat"^ 
As much as to say: "Thou oughtest rather to 
be accused for having joined me in marriage 
to a woman such as to lead me into sin." 

Beloved, these are the old songs — the song 
of pride, the song of detraction, the song of 
doubt, the song of falsehood, and the song of 
excuse. They must be avoided; yea in every 
way let these songs be kvoided, O virgins of 
Christ, if you wish to sing the new song. 
* Gen. iii. 4. f Ibid, ii. 17. % Ps. cxl. 4. § Gen. iii. 12. 


You, who long to hear the voice of Christ in 
a more special and familiar manner, do not 
even open your ears to such songs as these. 
For that malignant serpent lives still even 
under a virgin's face ; i.e,^ under the pretext 
of good conversation he distils the poison of 
his malignity. Still he sings in the hearts of 
those who listen to him the song of pride, 
when he secretly suggests to them to aspire 
after honours and dignities and superior- 
ships on account of their ncA^le birth, or 
their intellectual acquirements, or even their 
goodness. For he was himself deceived 
by these, in that he saw himself preferred 
before the other angel choirs in nobility 
of beauty and wisdom and virtues ; and he 
broke forth into the song of pride, by which 
he fell, and causes others to fall, as many as 
presume to sing the same song with him. 

Cliapter vxat 


j|OT thus sang the Mother of Christ, 
the learner of the new song, the 
true lily girt about with true green 
leaves. Would you see her leaves? would 
you hear her song ? She was exalted even 
above all that we can say or think; pre- 
ferred before the whole world and the heavens 
too, and yet she lifted not herself above her- 
self, but sang the song of humility, which is 
also that of charity, for charity is not puffed 
up.* She conceived from her inebriated heart 
a good wordt and a sweet word, the new song 
to be sung by virgins. And what did she 
say? ''^ Magnificat aniina meaDominumJ'* See 
how contrary is this song to the song of the 

♦ I Cor. xiii. 4. 

f£ruffavit cor meum verbum bonum, Ps. xliv. i. 


angel on the brink of his fall. He began on 
high, and forthwith not only went down but 
plunged into the lowest depths. Mary began 
from the lowest place, that she might be lifted 
up on high. She magnifies the Lord, not 
herself, although inconceivably exalted, ob- 
serving that which is written : " The greater 
thou art, the more humble thyself in all things^^* 
And hence she merited to be exalted even 
above all the angel choirs. He (the devil) 
magnified himself above the Lord, and hence 
he merited to be hurled down below every- 
thing that is. The spirit of the humble Mary 
rejoiced in the Lord her Jesus,t and hence she 
merited to be anointed with the oil of glad- 
ness above her fellows; that foolish angel 
rejoiced in himself, and hence he merited 
to be condemned to perpetual sorrow. She 
gloried that her humility was regarded, and 
hence she shall have fruit in the regard of 
holy souls;! he gloried in the greatness of his 
own strength, and hence he incurs perpetual 

♦ Ecclus. iii. 20. 

f Compare S. Luke i. 47, with Habac. iii. 18. 

i Wisd. iii. 13. Third Antiphon for Yirgjsia. 


You then, O virgins of Christ, be green in 
leaves, in words of charity, humility, and 
patience. Follow that chief lily, the Mother 
of the supreme Lily, the good Jesus ; that mag- 
nifying Him alone, who alone is great, in 
* Him, and through Him, and with Him you 
may deserve to be magnified. Beware, how- 
ever, of the song of detraction which began 
in Paradise, the old song and leading to the 
oldness of sin. And see how entirely con- 
trary it is to the new song of charity; since 
we cannot possibly love one whom we are 
detracting. For charity is accustomed not to 
speak against any one, not to detract, but 
rather to excuse the sins of others ; or, if it 
be necessary to reprove them, she does it 
with a mind not to malign but to correct 

Beware also of the song of doubtfulness. 
Do not doubt of the mercy of the Lord, but 
boldy cast all your care upon Him, for He 
hath care of you.* For He is not so cruel 
as to let you fall, if you cast yourselves upon 
Him who exhorts you to do so, and who 
knows that for His sake you have volun- 
tarily deprived yourselves of all earthly solace. 
♦ I S. Peter v. 7. 


Entertain no doubt of the punishment to be 
inflicted on the wicked for their demerits, 
that you fall not into the vice of presumption ; 
neither doubt of the reward to be conferred 
on the just, lest perchance you run the risk 
of despair. 

Beware also that the song of lying never 
proceed out of your mouth, for by this you 
would be throwing contempt on the spiritual 
praises of your Spouse the Truth. The virgin's 
mouth loses its virginity, as often as it know- 
ingly with a malignant mind speaks false- 
hoods contrary to truth. 

Beware no less of the song of making ex- 
cuses in sins f having ever in mind that word 
of S. John, the virgin Apostle, who giveth 
testimony to the truth : ^' My little children,'* 
says he, " if we say that we have no sin we 
deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 
But if we confess our sins, God is faithful and 
just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us 
from all iniquity T'^ 

Let none then think himself without sins ; 
and when one knows them let him not ex- 
cuse them, as foolish people are wont to do, 

» Ps. cxl. 4. 1 1 S. John i. 8, <^. 


even now uttering the excuse of Adam, and 
saying : " The woman whom God gave me, 
she seduced me. Wherefore did God give me 
a woman such as should seduce me ?'* That 
woman who seduces the man is the flesh 
which induces our mind to consent to sins, 
on account of which foolish men every day 
blame God j wallowing in their sins, and say- 
ing that they cannot resist the passions of 
the flesh which they have received from God. 
Exceedingly great is that sin, to accuse the 
most good God, who made all things very 
good for thee," and especially adorned man 
himself with gifts transcending those of all 
other creatures. Good without doubt did 
the good God make thee, who made all 
things good, very good, for thy sake. For 
He would not be good if He had made 
thee ill, for whose sake He made all things, 
all of which He made very good for thee. 
Good, therefore, yea very good, did God 
make thee. Good wert even thou thyself, 
though thou makest thyself evil. If thou 
clearest away in thee what thou thyself 
makest, thou wilt find thyself to be very good 
»Gen. i. 31. 


among the creatures which He made. He 
made thee first according to Himself. He 
was afterwards made according to thee. 
He made thee first according to His own 
image and likeness, and He Himself was 
afterwards made Man according to thy like- 
ness. Yox^Hhe Word was made flesh,^^'' Let 
us then praise our God, who made us accord- 
ing to Himself. Let us love our God, who 
for our sakes was made according to us. Let 
us pray Him, that He would mercifully vouch- 
safe to reform His image in our soul, where 
it is become deformed ; and that our body 
also, which He took in our likeness and 
nature. He would thus vouchsafe to keep 
undefiled. And let us put forth green leaves, 
that is, words that contain virtue, if we would 
indeed be true lilies, such as have not the 
words of the old songs, but which are known 
to harmonize with the new song, even charity, 
hope, humility, and all the other vittuesL 

Let us all (and you especially, O virgins of 
Christ who have your name from viridity)t put 
forth leaves which are green, and which laid 

* S. John i. 14. 

t Virgo, — a virore setatis. AinswortKs Dict^ 


upon proud tumours break them and soothe 
and heal them when they have cast forth their 
corruption. And this takes place as often as 
the incestuous are led to chastity, the proud 
to humility, the ill-tempered to gentieness, the 
avaricious to liberality, the gluttonous to so- 
briety, the envious to charity, and the sluggish 
to alacrity throiigh our good and tnithftd words. 
These vices oppress the soul like ulcers, and 
contain within diem poison of uncleanness and 
evil habits. But, as we remember, we gave 
examples of each of them in treating of the 
leaves of theMne,* we think we had better pass 
them o\-er now. This only will we say, that 
we must consider well what vice it is under 
which each individual labours^ that, in propor- 
tion to the degree and quality of his burden, we 
may minister the medicine of words, and so* 
with other vices, as we hjtve said above- 
FoT we must understand, that we are not 
always to study silence, althoogh with great 
studiousness is silence t:> be kept : bat we 
oogiit sometimes wO open, sometimes to simt 
the door of ocr moai^L in. sach a as 
tfLit evil ma.T be sileac^i, and y^ ^ooi and 


useful things not be silenced with the evil. 
And this the prophet insinuates in his prayer 
when he said : " Set a watchy O Lord, before 
my mouthy and a door roimd about my lips,*^''^ 
For a door is not always open, nor always 
shut ; but in the house of the wise, it is open 
to the wise who should send forth their mes- 
sengers, but shut, for fools who should be 
retained within. So also our mouth,— which 
is the door of our heart through which words' 
go forth as messengers, announcing what is 
going on in the heart within, — even this (door) 
is at times to be unlocked for prudent and 
useful words; but to evil words which rise 
from bad motidns of the heart, it is ever to 
be closed. For there is a time to speak and 
a time to keep silence. f And he sins as 
much who withholds a word in season, as 
he who scandalises others by speaking evil 
things. Since he is evidently too avaricious 
and envious who neglects to minister to the 
benefit of his neighbour, words which he has 
freely received For do you suppose that 
he would ever give away his substance, which 
is lessened by division, to his neighbour in 
* Ps. cxl. 3. f Eccl. iii. 7. 


want, who gives him not words which never 
fail ? Let our Lord, therefore, put a guard 
before our mouth, that we may know when 
and what sort of words we ought to speak ; 
and a door round about our lips, so that it 
may not only be opened, but also shut in 
due time, that we offend not either way. 
And let our words be laid on the sweUing 
tumours of sick souis, like the leaves of 
lilies, that by our Lord's help, they may cast 
forth the corruption of vices, and may be 
able to infuse into our hearers the strength 
of virtues. 


€{)at)ter xx\)iu 


II HY is it that the leaves near the 
earth are larger and more numer- 
pus, and those higher up fewer and 
less in size ? It is because the just, and 
especially virgins, the higher they ascend 
towards the summit of virtues, and leave 
below them earthly thoughts and desires, ^o 
much the more disciplined and sparing they 
ought to be in words. For, by the diminution 
of the leaves in the higher part is understood 
the disciplining of our words ; because those 
who are well disciplined, circumcise, as it ^ 
were, and pare down their words, that no- 
thing may be found in them contrary to 
purity or good discipline ; while the undis- 



ciplined and base pour forth words without 
honour, turgid and inflated. But by the few- 
ness of leaves, fewness of words is appro- 
priately understood : and after this all good 
people strive, the nearer they approach to the 
cultivation of the virtues. Hence, of a cer- 
tain brother, who wished to learn, and to 
reduce to practice the correction of the tongue, 
we read that he carried a stone in his mouth 
for three years ; and of another, that for thirty 
years he had not spoken a word. We see 
many who, when they were at the commence-, 
ment of their good purpose, and still as it 
were near the earth, influenced by former 
habits, were unable to observe either modesty 
or paucity of words ; and the words of such 
are denoted by the leaves of the lily near the 
ground. But as time goes on, and they re- 
ceive a fresh accession of grace, according to 
their progress, they moderate their words, 
and study to practise silence, so as to avoid 
not only evil, but even idle words. 

Now, to no class of good people are the 
disciplming and paring down of words more 
appropriate than to Christ's virgins. For 
if every Christian man is commanded that 


no evil speech or scurrility proceed from his 
mouth, but rather giving of thanks,* how 
much more should virgins, who consecrate 
their modesty to their Lord, abstain from 
these at all times? They who have not 
violated modesty ought, doubtless, to give all 
the greater thanks to the Lord, as they have 
obtained greater graces. For it is good to 
be virgins ; yea it is the highest good and the 
highest grace, since they alone follow the 
Lamb whithersoever He goeth. They ought, 
then, also to abstain as much as possible 
from a multiplicity of words, since every one 
knows that all loquacity is a mark of want of 
modesty, such as never ought to be found in 
conjunction with virgin purity. Let modest 
virgins, then, especially avoid the vice of 
loquacity, if they wish to preserve the virtue 
of modesty. It is evident that in the mul- 
titude of words there shall not want sin,t and 
by degrees from idle words they come to 
detraction, until at last they break out into 
open abuse. The Apostle S. James reproves 
loquacity thus \ ^^ If any man think himself 
to be religious^ not bridling his tongue, but 
* Eph. iv. 29 ; V. 4. f Prov. x. 19. 

^ N 2 . 


deceiving his own hearty this viaiCs religion is 
vainy-'' Let none, therefore, flatter himself 
on his religious Habit who has not yet learned 
to bridle his tongue. Bridle thy tongue, if 
thou wilt be a Religious, for 'without bridling 
of the tongue religion is vain. And hence it 
is that our most holy Fathers, the Founders 
of Religious Orders, and their followers, most 
wisely, as they were taught by the Spirit of 
Wisdom, instituted the strict observance of 
silenc^ : knowing well, that as a city that lieth 
open and is not compassed with walls, so is 
a man that cannot restrain his own spirit in 
speaking. t And, as the Psalm says \^^ A man 
full of tongue shall not be established in the 
eartk^^X Spiritual persons, also, who know it 
by experience, are well aware how much de- 
votion this frequent loosing of the tongue 
takes away, and how much inward dissipation 
it brings. For as the furnace, if its mouth is 
always open, cannot retain within itself heat, 
so neither can the heart of devotion preserve 
in itself grace, if its mouth is not shut with 
the door of silence. Let us then shut our 
door, that with the fervour of devotion we 
* S.James i. 26. f Prov. xxv. 28. JPs. cxxxix. 12. 


may preserve Christ, the Giver of devotion, 
in the fervent affection of our heart. 

You then, especially, O virgin spouses of 
Christ, enter into the chamber of your heart, 
and having shut the door of your mouth,* 
pray familiarly and yet humbly, with tears and 
yet with joy, with sweetness and with con- 
fidence, to your Spouse, your King, your 
Father, and your Comforter. Pour out your 
hearts before Him who is the searcher of all 
hearts ; converse with Him and call Him 
to remembrance ; pour out your souls above 
yourselves, and lift them up on the spiritual 
wings of charity, leaving behind you earthly 
and corporeal things ; and go over into the 
place of the wonderful tabernacle, even to the 
house of God, where you may hear not 
with the ears of the body, but of the heart, 
the voice of joy, and the sound of confes- 
sion, keeping the festival day.t And there, 
having been refreshed with interior consola- 
tion, when the time of storm and hardship, 
of temptation and the flesh shall come, you 
may be able to call to mind the heavenly re- 
freshment, and say : " Why art thou sad, O 
♦ S. Matt. vi. 6. \ "??., -sKv v 


my souly and why dost thou disquiet me J 
Hope in God, for I will yet give praise to 
Him, the salvation of my countenance and my 
Gody^ Be mindful of the most good Lord 
God; call Him to mind and delight your 
selves in Him, and let the spirit of your flesh 
faint, that you may be replenished with His 
Spirit, who is sweet above honey, and you 
may learn to esteem lightly external con- 
versations, after you have tasted the sweet- 
ness of interior converse. O how good and 
how pleasant, O how good and how pleasant 
it is to dwell together in unity with Thee, O 
most sweet Jesus, to converse with Thee, to 
make known the cause of our soul to Thee, 
and to enjoy the response of Thy consolation ! 
O how good it is to approach to Thee, who 
dwellest in the unapproachable light, with 
charity for our guide, for if this be our guide 
nothing can remain unapproached ! Thy 
Heart, O sweet Jesus, wounded with the spear 
of charity, knoweth how to make a way for 
charity, which shall never more be closed. 

Approach, therefore, unto Him, by Him 
[who is the Way], with the steps of charity 
♦ Ps; xli. 6. 


and be enlightened. Taste that He is 
sweet. "^ They know who hav^ experienced it, 
and well they know, who have tasted in some 
sort the good gift of God, — they who haye 
once been brought by our true Vine into the 
cellar ofwine,t — how bitter and how wearisome 
it is to be separated from the sweetness of 
the contemplation of Him in His presence 
within, and to be brought back again to the 
hearing or the seeing of corporeal and exter- 
nal things. For when He, the good Jesus, 
leads forth His own familiar disciples, as far 
as it is possible in this present life, apart from 
their other brethren on the mount of con- 
templation, and is pleased to be transfigured 
before them, and to appear to their wondering 
eyes in the glistening white raiment of His 
sweetness and goodness,! and wishes to ine- 
briate with strong charity those whom before 
He had visited in the fear of judgment, or in 
the violence of wholesome trials — for it is in 
the scourge that God sometimes makes His 
presence manifest in His people's hearts — 
when, therefore, as we have said. He some- 
times deigns to be transfigured in their 
* Ps. xxxiii. 6, 9. t Cant. ii. 4, t See S» MeX\.» TSvL» -v— v 

l84 ^^"^^^ MYSTICA. 

hearts, so that their sorrow is turned into 
joy; and then, just while this is taking place 
(one knows not how), if any one from the 
outer world requires the presence of such an 
one, and he is minded to force himself to 
descend from the mount of sweet contem- 
plation, you may suppose he cannot bear 
patiently such an outward interruption, but 
rather cries out with S. Peter : " Lord, it is 
good for lis to be here;''''^ and with S. Paul : 
** Unhappy man that I am, who shall deliver 
me from the body of this death ^ "t O how bit- 
ter it is for those who have known what it* is 
to be filled with such interior refreshment, to 
be again dragged away to external things. 
It seems to them like death ; for indeed it is 
a kind of death to be torn away from the 
contemplation of life, from the contemplation 
of our glorious Jesus, back again to this dark- 
ness ; and from the sweetness of Mary to be 
called back to the serving of Martha. J 

To speak briefly, I say that they who know 
how to occupy the eyes of their minds with 
interior contemplation, and to unloose the 
tongue of their soul in converse with God, are 
*S. Matt, xvjj, 4. t l^O"^' viJ» 24. t^* L^^^ ^- S9« 4o- 


not merely not delighted with external sights 
and conversations, but are even grievously 
fatigued^ by them. But they who are inwardly 
blind arid dumb, and know not how to occupy 
themselves in divine contemplation and de- 
vout prayers, seek the help of their outward 
senses, and are eager to spend in useless con- 
fabulations the length of time which is a 
burden to them. For to wish to occupy 
oneself in exterior conversations is a most 
sure sign of an idle soul, and of one which 
raises itself with no devotion at all to con- 
verse with God. They have certainly not 
yet attained to the summit of the lily, who 
have neither the knowledge nor the will to 
refrain their tongue from multiplicity of words. 
And one may know that one ascends higher 
on the steps of virtue, in proportion as one 
takes less pleasure in the conversations oi 
men ; save perhaps of that class of men in 
whom God Himself speaks, and through 
whom the word of God is heard. For such 
as these are not listened to for their own 
sakes, but for God's sake, who dwells in them 
and speaks in them j and, when we speak 
with such, we are often \pj owx XuOt^'s. ^'^^ 


operation freed from our perplexities, drawn 
oflf from evil, and confirmed in our good pur- 
pose. Nevertheless, in all things is the spirit 
of discretion to be desired and implored 
from the Lord, in order that by His revela- 
tion we may know what spirit we may believe,* 
and to whom we may with simplicity reveal 
the thought of our hearts, and from whom 
we may hear the word of salvation ; lest our 
simplicity be ensnared by the deceit of that 
cunning serpent, who is generally accus- 
tomed to mingle evil with good, falsehood 
with truth, and error with uprightness. 

* I S. John iv. I. 

chapter n^iiU 


Jet us come now at last to contem- 
plate the lily flower itself. Behold, 
O virgin of Christ, with what ex- 
ceeding beauty this flower of thine stands 
pre-eminent, marking out thy flower above all 
other flowers ! Behold what special grace it 
finds above all the flowers that are in the 
earth I See how by thy Spouse Himself it 
merits to be praised before all flowers. 
** Consider, ^^ He says, " the lilies of the fields 
how they grow. Amen, I say to you, that 
not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed 
as one of these J^* Read then, O virgin, yea 
read through, and read over and over again 
♦ S. Luke xu. 27. 


this word of -thy Spouse, and understand how 
greatly, in the commendation of this flower. 
He has commended thy glory. All the 
glory of the world has that most wise Creator 
and Author of all heaped up upon thy one 
little flower ; and He has not put that glory 
before the flower, but this little flower before 
all that glory. For in Solomon, of whom it 
is written that he was' magnified above all the 
kings of the whole earth for riches and glory,* 
you must understand all the glories of the 
world. And in the flower of thy lily, which 
bears the type of thee and of all Christ^s 
virgins, contemplate the glory of virginity. 
If, therefore, the beauty of thy lily is so 
highly commended by the Truth itself, as that 
He is justified in placing beneath it all the 
glory of Solomon, who was doubtless magnifi- 
cently arrayed in proportion to the magni- 
ficence of his glory; how greatly do you 
suppose must be commended the true lily of 
thy virginity which is incorrupt, and never 
shall be corrupted by any spot, when the mere 
shadow and type of it has merited to be so 
highly honoured ? If all the array of all the 
* 2 Paralip. ix. 22. 


glory of Solomon cannot be compared to the 
beauty of one material lily, what beauty shall 
be compared to thy blooming virginity, which 
is thine own true and special lily ? None, I 
say. For no beauty of earth can transcend 
the glory of the height of thy beauty, since 
" 7iot even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed 
as one of these,^^ 

Never, th^n, sing with sadness : Regnum 
miindi et omnem ornatum sceculi contempsi, 
propter amorem Donwii nostri J^esu Christi 
— " the kingdom of this world and all secular 
pomp I have despised for love of our Lord 
Jesus Christ."'" For He has given you even 
in this present life, a beauty greater than all 
the beauty of the world, keeping the lily of 
your integrity for Himself, and specially 
consecrating it to Himself before all other 
beautiful virtues, and binding it to Himself 
by a special love. You will see this clearly 
in the Canticle of love, where He passes by 
almost all other flowers, and speaks again and 
again ' of yours, oftentimes dwelling on the 
name of the lily ; ^^ As the lily among the 

* Response sung by novices at their putting on the 
Religious Habit, according to the Pontificale Romamtm. 


thorns^ so is my beloved among the daughters P'^'- 
And also : " J/j' Beloved is g07ie down into His 
garden^ to the bed of aromatical spices ^ to gather 
lilies r\ And again : " J/y Beloved to. me, and 
I to Him, who feedeth among the lilies,*^ I 
Worthy of all praise is the lily, beloved of 
the Spouse : worthy of all love is the lily, 
which is gathered by the Spouse. For, I 
think, it is not gathered that it may wither 
any more, but that it may be placed on the 
golden Altar which is before the eyes of the 
Lord ; in other words, that it may be set in 
the heavenly sanctuary, that that same lily 
may be the ornament of other saints. It is 
indeed a delicate lily on which the Spouse 
feedeth ; not that He delighteth in nothing 
else but this, but in this beyond all else He 
delighteth with a special predilection of love. 
And justly so. For the good, which in 
oth^r Saints who are not virgins is single, in 
virgins is double. If the whole Church is 
virgin in soul, having neither spot nor wrinkle, 
incorrupt in faith, hope, and charity, and 
hence is called a virgin and merits to be 
praised by her Spouse, of what praise, think 

* Cant. ii. 2. f Ibid, vi. i. J Ibid. v. 2. 


you, are not our lilies worthy, who have both 
in soul and body that which the whole 
Church has in soul alone ? For Chrisfs vir- 
gins are, as it were, the fatness and marrow 
of the Church,'''' and, with a privilege peculiarly 
their own, cling more familiarly than other 
flowers to the embrace of their Spouse. 

Virgins, who are delighted with the beauty 
of the lily, should above all things consider 
that the flower is as white within as it is with- 
out. The white outside part of the flower 
signifies purity of body, and the inside part 
signifies virgin purity of mind. For it would 
be a shameful thing, indeed it would not be 
a lily, if it lacked the purity either of its inner 
or outer whiteness. So also it is a shameful 
virgin, nay, it is not a virgin, that hath not 
both chastity of mind and body. Hence I 
doubt not that there are many of both sexes, 
virgins in body, who are dead and will be 
saved, and yet who will by no means merit 
the virgin's reward. For they have died in- 
corrupt in body, but they had been corrupted 

* "They are the flower of the human race . '. . They 
are the flower, but they are also the fruit ; the purest 
sap, the most generous blood of the stock of Adam." 
Monks of the West. Vol. v. p. 354. 


in mind, and yet that same corruption of 
mind did not doom them to eternal death, 
because they hoped for lawful marriage, and 
would not otherwise contract any unlawful 
ties. For if, as the Apostle says, " a virgin 
marry she hath not sinned^'"'' and yet she who 
has married only in will, has already in mind 
corrupted the flower of her virginity. And 
to this opinion agrees S. Augustine t when he 
says " that a virgin who aspires to marriage 
is by no means better than a woman who has 
already entered the married state, for she 
who has already married is content with one 
husband, whereas she who is about to be 
married, if she seeks among a whole crowd of 
people some one to cleave to, must neces- 
sarily commit fornication in mind with many. 
To-day one pleases her, to-morrow another, 
then a third and a fourth, and perhaps even 
more ; and how, if such an one dies, will she 
obtain the merit of incorrupt virginity ? *' 

As to those virgins who suffer violence 
after having made a vow of virginity, and in 
no way consent to corruption ; or as to those 
again who, before their vow, once deliberately 

* I Cor. vii. 28. T De Sanct. Virginit. c. 11. 


aspired after marriage, although afterwards 
they were led* to repent of it, and bound 
themselves by a vow of chastity ; or as to 
those who, after such a vow, have merely in 
will drawn back from the vow of continence, 
but then have again returned to the fidelity 
of their vow, and persevered unto the end : 
whether such virgins, I say, will be rewarded 
with the virgin's crown I confess I do not 
know for certain. And I think this must be 
left to the determination of naore experienced 
men, or indeed rather .to the judgment of God. 
But I say, more as an opinion than as a strict 
definition, concerning the first-mentioned 
class, who suffer violence : — If they never con- 
sent to their own corruption, neither in will 
nor in delectation, they will not be deprived 
of the blessed reward of virgins, and this, it 
appears, may be proved from the words (if 
authentic) of S. Lucy.* Nay, if through 
violence and without any consent, virgin 
chastity be lost, I trust that such loss of 

* See the 6th Lection in the Office of S. Lucy, Dec. 
13th, when she replied to the diaboHcal threat of 
l^aschasiiis : "Si invitam jusseris violari, castitas mihi 
duplicabitur ad coronam." S. Augustine teaches the 
same doctrine as in the text in De Civit, DeU lib. i. c. 

O . 


chastity would turn to the good of those who 
lose it : for it may be that our good Jesus 
permitted them to be deprived of such a 
treasure, because He foresaw that they would 
not make a good use of it. For if any one 
must needs grow proud on account of the 
merit of her virginity, it would be to the 
benefit of such an one to lose virginity, and 
by this means gain the virtue of humility. 

Virgins, however, must avoid with the 
utmost care all places and times that afford 
opportunity for seducers ; lest, if by their 
folly they give .occasion to their own cor- 
ruption, they should seem to have been 
deservedly the cause of their own injury, 
and so be deprived of their crown. If 
Bethsabee had not washed herself with a dis- 
regard of modest}', or at least of caution, on 
the housetop, and Susanna in the orchard, 
where they might perchance be seen; the 
former would never have fallen into adultery, 
nor the latter into peril of death. Let 
virgins be cautious as well as chaste. Let 
them learn to block up the windows of their 
eyes and ears, to hide their faces, lest by 
seeing or hearing what may not be expedient, 


they call death to them \ and lest while they 
are seen and heard incautiously by others, 
they slay them, though they know it not. 
For this we know has often happened by the 
suggestion and lying in wait of that [serpent] 
of whom it is written : ** Hesitteth in ambush 
with the rich in secret places, that he may kill 
the innocent^ * 

As to the other cases, — those [virgins] who 
at some time, either before or after their 
vow, have fallen solely in will, it appears to 
me, without prejudice to any better judg- 
ment, that they do not lose the crown, of 
virginity, if they quickly come back to their 
vow and continue in it faithfully. But yet 
I think the merit of the crown will be some- 
what lessened in proportion to the wavering 
of their will, so that if for any long time, or 
with a strong will they persisted in the reso-^ 
lution of breaking the vow of virginity, so 
much less merit would they have in the crown. 
Those, I consider, will possess the crown in 
all its integrity, who have from their earliest 
years been careful to vow and to preserve 
their virginity for their Spouse, the Lord Jesus. 

* Ps. ix. 8. 
O 2 

Cfiapter xxix. 


i|E must not omit to notice that the 
.very flower of the lily, so tall, so 
white, so delightful as it is, always 
bends down towards the earth. What is recom- 
mended to us by this but humility? For to 
bend the head towards the earth is to turn 
our mind to our earthly origin, and to that 
frailty which we have contracted from the 
earth, that we never dare in any way to 
presume anything on ourselves, when we 
consider that we are but slime and ashes. 
And to none is this virtue so necessary as to 
virgins, lest they should fall into the abyss 
of pride, from the consideration of the 
excellence^ of their merits. For Christ's 


virgins, while still living on earth, are living 
the life of angels, since they are already 
such as our Lord has said that men shall be 
after the resurrection; because then they 
neither marry nor are given in marriage, but 
are like the angels of God in heaven.* Now 
Christ's virgins do not merely wait for the 
incorruption of the resurrection, but even in 
this present life live incorrupted, emulating 
certainly the angelic life. Therefore, lest 
from such a lofty step, which they have 
boldly ascended of their own free will and 
not by the command of any one, they should 
have through pride a degrading fall, let them 
look down towards the earth, as doth the 
flower of the lily. Let them remember that 
they are dust, and that their days are as 
grass ; and let them not esteem themselves 
to have risen again to the beatitude of 
immortality, but to be encompassed still 
with that wall of flesh which separates 
between them and Jesus their Beloved. Let 
them beware of that cunning serpent who 
lies in waiting for them in manifold ways, 
that he may seduce them to presume some- 

* S. Matt. xxii. '30. 


thing on themselves ; whether to imagine 
that the good which they have, they have not 
from God, but from their own virtue ; or to 
suppose that it has been given them on 
account of their own merits ; or, from the 
fact of their having received it from God, 
to believe themselves specially better than 
others ; or to think that they have what they 
have not. These are four species of boast- 
ing with which that most wicked serpent not 
unfr^quently deceives even good people. 

I. Those who are deceived by the first 
species, — who do not think that what they 
have they have received from God, fall into 
the crime of ingratitude, than which no sin 
is greater. For what is worse than not to 
recognise that God is the Giver of all good ? 
He who does not acknowledge this, how 
will he render thanks to Him from whom 
he does not think that he has received? 
And certainly not a few are in this con- 
dition; and you may recognise them by 
their own words. What do they say? 
**Why," say they, **havejw/ not kept your 
chastity ? Why have you not the virtue of 
humility and patience? Why have you not 


devotion in prayer and floods of tears?'' 
What do you suppose they are thinkmg of 
who say this, but that they have these 
things from themselves, and that any that 
please can have the same from themselves? 
Think not thus, O virgin of Christ, but 
know well that thou hasf nothing from thy- 
self, except thy • sins ; all else, which are 
good, are the graces of thy Spouse. Con- 
gratulate Him, then, that is, rejoice, and at 
the same time . give thanks to Him, from 
whom thou hast thy being and thy well- 
being, and love thy Beloved with so much 
the greater love, as by the number and 
greatness of His good gifts He proves His 
own love towards thee. Yea, even the 
gifts of virtues themselves love more and 
keep more diligently, because thou hast 
merited to receive them from One so 
beloved and so worthy of love, than if thou 
couldst obtain them by thy own strength. 
In keeping lovingly that which is given 
thee, show thy love for thy beloved Spouse 
who giveth: for so precious a giver could 
not give gifts of little worth. 
.2. The second class of persons,— who 


believe that they have received what they 
have from God, but yet on account of their 
own merits, — these wish to rob our kind 
Lord Jesus of His grace. Why thinkest 
thou that thou hast received virtue for the 
sake of thine own merits? Tell me, who 
gave thee the power of meriting ? For what 
hast thou which thou ha^t not received? 
Why dost thou boast, as though thou hadst 
not received it?"^' And yet, if thou wouldst 
'know how thou hast received it, listen to 
the same Apostle : ^^ By the grace of God, he 
says, we are saved "\ The fact that we are 
saved according to our works, is not that 
we are saved by our own justifications, but 
that grace is given for gract. For by the 
grace. of God we are* what we are, whether 
in having grace, or in obtaining heavenly 

3. The t/iird class are those, who from 
their gifts imagine themselves better than 
others, and despise others as more vile than 
themselves ; and these are overcome by that 
plague of the Pharisee, who, even when he 
would give thanks for the virtues he l\ad 

♦ I Cor. iv. 7. t Ephes. ii. 8. 


received, sinned, because he despised the 
publican.* And because very many suffer 
under this plague, we may endeavour, with 
our Lord's assistance, to administer some 
remedy to them. I think they must consider 
thus : He who is wanting in some one 
spiritual virtue, perhaps has another equal to 
it, or perhaps greater than that. So S. Jerome 
says : ** A glorious thing is virginity and the 
virtue of moclesty, if only it be not weakened 
by falls into other blemishes." For the 
greater the person is who is to be pleased, 
the greater need there is for taking pains to 
please him. If you are a virgin, it is still 
doubtful to what degree of virgin dignity 
you will attain. For all virgins have not the 
same merit. Who among saintly men ever 
came near to S. John, so as to be like him in 
chastity, and equalled with him in praise? 
Who among virgin women has attained to 
the height of the dignity of Mary, the most 
exalted Virgin ? Do not, therefore, exalt your- 
self above any one whose inmost heart you do 
not know, lest you fall below all. Again, if, per- 
chance, you hold the lowest place in the rank 

* S. Luke xviii. ii. 


of virginity, how will you venture to compare 
yourself with him who, in humility, or charity, 
or obedience, has risen perhaps to the highest 
step ? What if he, before whom you dare 
to prefer yourself, has reached such a degree 
of perfection that he hesitates not, — yea God, 
to whom his conscience is known, bears him 
witness, that with all his heart he pants — to 
drink to the very dregs the chalice of suffer- 
ing for his Lord? Perhaps, however, you 
here tell me that you also, and your con- 
science bearing you witness, are ready to 
endure suffering. To this we reply, that it is 
not every one who is able truly to discern 
in himself the constancy [capable] of this 
virtue, unless he has learned it actually and 
by the teaching of experience. How many, 
do you suppose, have failed in the bitterness 
of their torments, who thought that they 
would persevere bravely even unto death ? 
You may not then judge yourself, for you do 
not know yourself,^ since one of the most 
perfect of all, S. Paul, says : ''But neither do I 
judge my own self; but he that judgeth me is 
the Lord'' " Much less ought you to judge 

* I Cor. iv. 3, 4. 


Others, and hence it is immediately added : 
" Therefore judge not before the time; until the 
Lord come, who both tuitl bring to light the 
hidden things of darkness, and will make 
manifest the counsels of the hearts,^^ '" And 
then, doubtless, many will be put first in the 
judgment of the Lord, who seeth all things, 
and contrary to the opinions of men, and 
many others will be put last who were 
ialsely supposed to be designed for the first 

There is, moreover, another valid reason 
still, which should call you away from this 
kind of boasting. For, have it so as you 
think. Suppose one is more just than another, 
one more holy than another ; yet even that 
one knoweth not whether he be worthy of 
love or hatred. t Hence, let even the best 
exercise their mind, and after the example of 
the lily, they will, by the influence of fear 
and humility, look downwards towards the 
earth ; since they bear in mind that they 
know not whether they are worthy of love or 
hatred. And truly they know not, and they 
are ignorant of what the coming day, yea, even 

- ♦ I Cor. iv. 5. -^ ^cOi't'i, Ssw, \. 


the coming hour may bring forth ; how much 
less do they know what their own end will 
be, or what will be the end of those who now 
are bad ! If you had seen Judas the traitor, 
while he was still a disciple, and among the 
highest of them, casting out devils in the 
name of the kind Jesus ; and you had seen 
the thief, who was afterwards crucified with 
Christ, and who had been up to that time 
pursuing his career of robbery and murder, I 
have no doubt you would have preferred the 
disciple to the thief ; and yet we all know 
which was preferred to the other in the end. 
Do you, therefore, if 'you have arrived even 
at such perfection of life as to work miracles, 
fear lest at last you be found a reprobate with 
Judas himself But if you see any one else 
steeped in the worst crimes, do not you prefer 
yourself to him, for you know not whether at 
the last he may not be converted after the 
example of the thief, as it is written : ^^ Blessed 
is the man to whom the Lord hath not imputed 
sin,'* "^^ And this is commonly taken to be said 
of those who after their sins are converted 
to the Lord, by that Lord who considers a 

♦ Ps. xxxi. 2. 


man according as his death shall be. Do 
not you, then, presume to judge any one; 
neither prefer yourself, though you were the 
test of men, to any other, though hfe be the 
worst ; for you know not what may be the 
ending of you and of him. To the earth, 
therefore, with the flower of the lily, bend 
down : that is, consider thy frailty in thyself, 
because thou art earth and ashes ; and the 
greater thou art the more humble thyself in 
all things,* bowing down the purity of the 
flesh in the virtue of humility. 

4. What can be more vain than those who 
imagine that they have what they have not ? 
And yet in truth, almost all the human race 
labours under this malady. For who is there 
who perfectly knows himself, except he to 
whom it is give^ by the Father of lights, by 
the true Light which enlighteneth every man? 
From heaven it came, yj'oifli ercavrov, that is. 
Know thyself. For in the Canticle of can- 
ticles the same spouse, who panted for the 
embrace of her Bridegroom, who had experi- 
enced the fragrance of His ointments, is in 
a way reproved for her ignorance : ^^ If thou 
* Ecclus. iii. 20. 

io6 V'lTlS mVstica. 

knmv not thyself^ O fairest among women^ go 
forth'-' from Me." Behold, then, what a 
great evil is any ignorance of herself, o(i 
account of which she deserves to be repelled 
by her most loving Spouse. Let us return, 
therefore, to our own self knowledge — that is, 
to our earth — if we would be true lilies, and 
be admitted to the presence of the Spouse. 
Let us continually look into ourselves, and 
unceasingly cry out to our true and kind 
Jesus ; that He would deign to enlighten the 
eyes of our mind, that we may know our own 

* Cant. i. 7. 


chapter rrr* 


||0W let US turn our attention to the 
pumber of the petals of the flower 
itself, and may our most pure white 
Flower, the kind Jesus, enlighten us to under- 
stand them ! In perfect lilies, the white flower 
itself generally consists of six petals, and by 
these we understand six reasons that should 
incite the" minds of virgins to the purity of 
virginity, of which three belong to the present 
life and three to that which is to come. 
There are three disadvantages of this present 
life in the married, -for the sake of avoid- 


ing which virgin chastity is to be desired. 
There are also three advantages in future 
glory, for the sake of acquiring which the 
vow of virginity is to be kept Two disad- 
vantages of this present life we have in the 
curse which was inflicted on our first parent 
Eve after her sinful transgression. For the 
serpent fell under three curses, Eve under 
two, Adam under one. To the serpent it 
w^LS said by the Lord : " Upon thy breast shalt 
thou go, earth shalt thou eat, and the woman 
shall crush thy head'^^^^ To Eve God said : 
**/;; sorrow shalt thou brin^ forth children, and 
thou shalt be under thy husband's power '^\ 
And to Adam : " /;/ the sweat of thy face shalt 
thou eat bread "X 

I. Two curses on Eve, and through her on 
all married women, are expressed in this sen- 
tence, namely, that in sorrow they shall bring 
forth children, and that they are under the 
power of their husbands. What and how great 
is the sorrow of women in child-bearing no 
one knows but they who have experienced it. 
In the Scriptures, however, we often find a 
testimony to this sorrow. Our Lord, who is 

♦ Gen. iii. 14, 15. f Ibid, v, 16. J Ibid. v. ig. 


acquainted with all sorrows, when He saw 
His disciples in exceeding sadness at His 
death, was pleased to compare their sorrow 
with this very sorrow of a woman in child- 
birth, saying : " ^ woman ^ when she is in 
labour, hath sorrow., because her hour is come: 
so also you 7iow indeed have sorrow.^^* Like- 
wise also S. Paul speaks of it, when wishing 
to show the sorrow of those who at the day 
of the last judgment shall be found unpre- 
pared, he says : " When they shall say, Peace 
and security, theft shall sudden destruction come 
upon them, as the pains on her that is with 
child, and they shall not escaped \ And often- 
times in the prophets and in the other 
Scriptures many samples are found of the 
greatness of this sorrow. But virgins, happy 
and truly prudent, who have chosen a more 
close union in spirit with the Lord rather 
than temporal advantages, they bring forth 
to Jesus their immortal Spouse spiritual off- 
. spring, even good works, far better, more 
abundant, more secure, and not at intervals 
of once a year, but every day ; loving Him, 
into whose most chaste bridal chamber they 
» S. John xvi. 21 ,22. \\. TVv^^^ , N » ^. 



have entered under the guidance of purity, 
or rather, whom they have received into the 
chamber of their own hearts. They have 
heard His voice articulating in His precepts 
and promises of heavenly rewards, and when 
their Spouse has spoken to them, they have 
answered Him by obedience; for His love 
breathes chastity, His touch confers purity, 
His nuptials make and keep them virgins. 
O truly happy spouses, who have consecrated 
to such a husband not only their purity of 
mind but of body also ! Whose union is so 
fruitful in their souls that they are made the 
mothers of all virtues, and their children 
dwell eternally in the heavenly house ; the 
seed of their works shall be set before their 
Spouse for ever I 

2. Christ's virgins also escape the second 
malediction of our mother Eve, and through 
her of all married women, for they are not 
under the power of a mortal husband. And 
behold in this how great a good you find, 
and how great an evil you avoid ! Let us 
hear the Apostle S. Paul's opinion on this 
point : ** The virgin who is unmarried thinketh 
on the things of the Lordy that she may be holy 


both in body and in spirit. But she that is 
married thinketh on the things of the worlds 
how she may please her husband^^^ What is 
gained? No small evil is escaped — worldly 
solicitude, how she may please her husband. 
What increase of devotion, think you, is 
gained by virgin souls, in their being able 
freely, when they will and when they ought, 
without the hindrance of any care, to give 
themselves to prayers and other spiritual 
exercises ? What great troubles have married 
women, who are religious and wish to find 
time for God, when they are forbidden to do 
so by their husbands, to whom they must 
needs be subject ! For this is the great 
burden of marriage, when women are 
united to such husbands as quarrel with 
their good habits and good conversation. 
How many matrons, think you, are there 
who would purchase even with torments 
freedom from the power of the wicked that 
•they might render unto God a free service ? 
Happy, therefore, are virgins who take 
Christ for their Spouse, and subject them- 
selves only to Him, whose yoke is sweet 

* I Cor. vii. 34. 
P 2 


and whose burden is light ! They desire with 
a whole and undivided mind to please Him 
alone who is indeed beautiful above the 
sons of men ; * — not with divided mind, so 
as to desire to be solicitous in one part ta 
please God, and in the other part to please 
a husband; — but giving themselves wholly 
and entirely to Him, from whom_ they have 
received both being and well-being, and 
besides this, have freely received Himself 
for their Spouse. 

What worthy return canst thou ever make 
to Him, who hath given thee so much? 
He gave thee to thyself when He created 
thee, that thou mightest have thy being; 
He gave thee again to thyself when He 
regenerated thee, that thou mightest have 
well-being; He gave His own Body and 
Blood, Himself true God and true Man, to 
thee for a Viaticum, lest thou shouldest faint 
in the way; and thou, — ^what wilt thou render 
in return ? If for that which He gave thee 
when He created thee, thou canst not make 
Him a recompense in return, what wilt thou 
ever render for His gift of Himself? Verily, 

* Ps. xliv. 3. 


if thou couldst give thyself again and agkin 
a thousand times, what wouldst thou be in 
comparison of God ? Yet render What re- 
turn thou canst, render thyself wholly to 
Him, who gave thee once and again all thou 
art j and, not content with this, gave Himself 
wholly to thee. Love Him, who loveth thee 
so dearly, and as thine only Beloved, with thy 
whole soul, and with thy whole heart, and 
with all thy strength ; because He Himself 
hath given thee the heart of a good will, and 
a reasonable soul, and strength to fulfil that 
which is good. Let thy soul bless the Lord, 
and forget not all His benefits ; and bind thy- 
self with the bonds of His love, and so thou 
mayest have the greater freedom to serve 
Him, and to see how sweet the Lord is. And 
if thou have rightly tasted Him, and He 
draw thee, then wilt thou never any more 
be brought under the power of another. For 
every one who is wise would refuse to free 
himself from the service of Him, whom to 
serve is to reign. Who is there who does 
not wish to reign? Wouldst thou reign 
happily? Serve our kind Jesus, and thou 
shalt reign; for to serve \Ivkv v=» \.<^ ^^v^. 


And thus it is written of the Saints, that " they 
shall reign with Christ for ever.'''''' What 
means * they shall reign ' ? They shall be 
kings. And this also the Apostle says : ** They 
shall be heirs indeed of Gody and joint- heirs 
7uith Christy t They shall, therefore, be true 
kings, heirs of the kingdom of God, joint- 
heirs with the King. Most happy then are 
virgins who are subject to His yoke alone, 
who changes His servants into kings, whose 
kingdom shall not be changed for ever. 

3. The third reason, for which virginity is 
to be desired, is the absence of the manifold 
anxieties about the bringing up of children, 
which inexpressibly trouble people. How 
great is this anxiety parents only know. For, 
in proportion to the love which they feel for 
their children does the greatness of their soli- 
citude for them extend j and that love none 
know but parents. He spoke truly who said : 

" Quis sit amor prolis, soli novere parentis." 
(Parents only know what love of offspring means.) 

And hence it sometimes happens that that 
solicitude extends so far as to occupy all the 
powers of their mind, and they let alone all else 
♦ Apoc. xxii. 5. \ ^otft. N\\\, \7. 


and can speak of nothing but their children. 
Their mind runs hither and thither, and . 
wanders away, and runs through the sea and 
land, and leaves nothing untried ; while very 
often even the body of these poor parents is 
worn away with their various exertions in 
order to obtain money and property for their 
children. And even then they do not rest; 
najr, wealth is more exacting than poverty j 
because through love of their children avarice 
steals in, an^i 

"Crescit amor nummi quantum ipsa pecunia crescit."* 
(The love of money grows as grows the wealth itself.) 

And one craves for money less when one ha3 
it not. And so they die in their miseries. 
They cannot be sympathised with, nor will 
they show mercy on others, and these most 
miserable. parents make themselves unworthy 
to obtain mercy. Now, I think you see how 
much evil excessive solicitude about children 
does, and to what end it leads. . Think what 
a burthen of anxiety Hes upon even good 
parents, and especially qn mothers, who are 
usually most strongly moved with affection 
towards their children, when they see their 
* Juvenal, Sal. i^. 


children's lives leaving the path of virtue, 
and wandering along the byways of vice, 
and when they see them afflicted with divers 
bodily ailments, and at last approaching the 
" ruin of death ! Among such miseries, what 
place is left for divine contemplations ? How 
can the heart be lifted up to the Lord when 
oppressed with such heavy cares ? O how 
blessed are virgins, whose Spouse cannot die 
any more ! whose children, that is their 
virtues, ever live ; yea, bring even the virgins 
themselves to eternal life ! whose minds, for- 
getting those things that are behind, do not 
come down to all the various distractions of 
earth ! Already do blessed virgins bear in 
their mind, as far as is permitted to man, hea- 
ven with all its joys ; and this, moreover, will 
conduct them thither. Even now they wander 
through heavenly joys, they pass through each 
particular choir of blessed spirits, they take 
in with spiritual quickness of perception each 
office of each choir, and with free mental 
appetite they taste those joys which belong to 
each and every virgin, prepared for them by 
their King and Spouse, and arc never a prey 
to any solicitude for children of earth. 

chapter xtxL 


|ET us follow on and pursue, in our 
treatment of the subject before us, 
the three advantages of the life ''to 
come, which will be especially reserved for 
the virgins of Christ. Blessed John the 
Evangelist in his Apocalypse saw twelve 
times twelve thousand saints, with their 
harps of unstained virginity in body, of 
unspotted freshness in heart, and that they 
shall follow the Lamb, the Spouse of virgins, 
whithersoever He goeth.*-* 

4. Behold the special reward of virgins, by 
which the fourth petal of the lily flower is 

♦ Apoc. xiv. 1—5. We may notice that a great portion 
of this chapter is taken word for word from S. Augustine, 
Dc San eta VirginitatCs cc. xxv.— xxkV. 


marked : that t/iey follow the Lamb whither- 
soever He goeth. Whither, think you, doth 
this Lamb go, where none can have the 
courage or the power to follow Him but 
you ? WhitKer, I ask, do we suppose Him to 
go ? Into what forests ? Into what meadows? 
Thither, I reckon, where the true joys are : 
not the joys of this world, vain, senseless, 
false 3 nay, not even such joys as are given 
to others in the very kingdom of God ; «but a 
portion distinct from that of others are the 
joys of the virgins of Christ, joys of Christ, 
with Christ, after Christ, through Christ, joys 
peculiar to the virgins of Christ. The joys 
of those who are not virgins are not the 
same, although they are yet Christ's. For 
some joys are for some, some for others, but 
for none such as these. They follow the 
Lamb whithersoever He goeth, because the 
Lamb's flesh is virgin. For He kept that in 
Himself which He took not away from His 
Mother, although He was in the body. A 
Virgin, He was conceived of a Virgin ; and 
Virgin born of a Virgin, after His nativity He, 
together with His Virgin Mother, remained 
a Virgin, the author, the guardian, the lover 


of virginity, and its most bountiful rew^rder, 
our Lord Jesus Christ. Deservedly, then, do 
they follow Him whithersoever He goeth, 
even in this life, in virginity of heart and 
flesh. What is to follow but to imitate? 
For ^^ Christ suffered for us, leaving us an ex- 
ample J^ as the Apostle S. Peter says, ^^ thai ye 
should follow his steps, ^^"^^ Each one follows 
Him in that in which he imitates Him, and 
in Him there is much to imitate proposed to 
all. But virginity of body is not for all : for 
all have not the power of being virgins. Let 
the rest of the faithful, who have lost virginity 
of body, follow the Lamb, not whithersoever 
He goeth, but whithersoever they are able to 
follow Him. They can do so in all virtues, 
except when He goeth in the beauty of vir- 
ginity. For how shall they go after Him in 
the virgin's path, who have lost that which in 
no way can they regain? You, then, O 
virgins of His, ye who on this account follow 
Him whithersoever He goeth, go after Hijn, 
keeping with perseverance that which you 
have vowed j do with ardour what you can, 
that the good gift of your virginity may not 
♦ I S. Pet. ii. 21. 



be lost to you, for once lost you cannot do 
anything to bring it back. Oh with what 
admiration, with what joy will you be beheld 
by the rest of the multitude of the saints who 
are unable to follow the Lamb in this ! They 
will see, but they will not envy your happi- 
ness, and by rejoicing in you will possess in 
you what they have not in- themselves. For 
the Lamb, He whom you follow whitherso- 
ever He goeth, will not desert even those 
who cannot follow Him where you can. We 
speak of that Omnipotent Lamb, who will go 
before you, and yet not be absent from them, 
since God shall be all in all ; and they who 
have less will not be angry at you, fon where 
no envy is, even difference is concord. Be 
bold, then, and have confidence ; be strong 
and persevere in that which you have vowed, 
and render unto the Lord your God your 
vows of perpetual continence, not only for 
the sake of avoiding the cares of this present 
world, but far more for the sake of. those 
special delights of the world to come, which 
Christ our Lamb will pass by and spiritually 
minister unto you." 

* S. Luke M\. •^7. 


But let Christ's virgins take heed that they 
do not understand this in a childish manner : 
so as to imagine that virginity alone is suffi- 
cient for them to follow the Lamb of God 
whithersoever He goeth; since that same 
Lamb walketh not only in the path of vir- 
ginity, but in the way of all virtues. Christ's 
virgin must, therefore, even in this life, 
imitate that most gentle Lamb in the way of 
all virtues, if she would, reach that land 
where she shall follow Him for ever whither- 
soever He goeth. How could a virgin who 
is proud follow the Lamb, who walketh in 
the way of humility ? Nay, she can in ho 
way get near Him. How could an ill-tem- 
pered virgin follow Him who is most meek ? 
How could an envious one follow Him who 
burns with charity ? How could an avaricious 
virgin follow Him who is most bountiful? 
Or, an intemperate one Him who is sober? 
The Lamb walketh in every way of every 
virtue : so also let the virgin walk, who de- 
sires to imitate the Lamb. Let her be meek, 
let her be humble, let her be fervent in 
charity, let her be bountiful, full of alacrity 
and sobriety ! and she will imitate the Lamb 


whithersoever He goeth ; and at length will 
deserve to hear from her Spouse Himself: 
'''How beautiful are thy steps in thy shoes, 
O prince's daughter / "* The special daughter 
of God the Prince, and Lady of the kings of 
ail the earth shall be the virgin soul, whose 
steps in her shoes are commended. By 
shoes we understand the examples of the 
dead ; for shoes are made of dead animals. 
Beautiful, therefore, are the steps of virgins 
in shoes, when they follow in a direct course, 
by the way of all the virtues, Christ the 
Lamb, who died for them, ready also them- 
selves for the sake of the Lamb to go even 
unto death, and by death, if necessary, to 
follow the Lamb ; in every work they do, for- 
tifying the feet of their affections by the 
examples of that most good Lamb, Jesus 
Christ, against the serpent who lies in wait 
for the virgin's heel, when his serpent head, 
by the same Lamb's help, is crushed by the 
virgin's foot.t 

5. Th.^ fifth petal of the lily flower marks 
the fifth reason for which virginity is to be 
desired, namely, that they shall sing a new 

* Cant. vii. i. f Gen. iii. 15. 


song before the throne of God and the Lamb, 
which none besides virgins can sing.* O 
happy virgins ! yea, virgins happier than all 
others, who bring to those eternal nuptials 
of the Lamb the new song which you shall 
sing upon your harps ; not such as all the 
earth sings, as it is said, ^^Singimto the Lord a 
new song, sing tmto the Lord, all the earth f\ 
but such as none can sing but you ! Yet all 
the multitude of the faithful shall hear, and 
shall be delighted with that song, which is 
your own peculiar and excellent gift But 
you, who shall both sing it and hear it, for it 
shall be sung by you, shall exult with greater 
happiness and reign with greater delight. 
Who can unfold that happiness ? What 
human heart can conceive the jubilee of such 
glorious exultation ? Now, if all virgins shall 
sing that song, shall not that Virgin, who is 
the first-fruits of virgins, sing it too? Yes, 
she shall sing, and more delightfully, as she is 
more pure than all the rest. And she shall 
set an example to all the choir in singing, as 
by her example she has incited them to the 
love of virginity. Virgins, then, in that fes- 

♦Apoc. xiv. 3 f Ps. xcv. I. 


tive gladness shall sing their own song to the 
Heart of their Virgin Spouse, from whom 
they have received the power to sing such a 
song as that. 

What can we say more ? Will not He Him- 
self, the Lamb, who exceeds in excellence 
not only the band of other virgins, but even 
His own Virgin Mother — for from him they 
have not only their virginity, but even their 
being— will not He, I say, the Virgin Spouse 
of virgins, the chiefest Virgin, will not He 
sing too ? Yes, verily ; even He shall sing, 
and that most delightful voice of the Eternal 
Word of the Father shall be heard with them 
all, before them all, and in them all. O most 
happy song ! O most delightful festival — 
beyond compare, and without end ! Who 
will not pant for this ? Who will not make 
light of toil, in order that he may reach that 
country, where he may hear the new song of 
such glorious virgins ; where he may distin- 
guish, sounding out wondrously above the 
other virgins, the voice of the Mother of the 
Lamb ; where he may hear even the most 
kind and sweet Lamb Himself pouring forth 
a melody all surpassing honey in its sweet- 


ness? For if, as the Psalmist testifies, the 
words of the Lord, even in the very body of 
this death, are so sweet to anyone as to be 
sweeter than honey and the honeycomb ; '•' 
with what sweetness must they ovecflow when 
all mortality, all fear, all sorrow have passed 
far away : when no place of bitterness shall 
be left, but all shall drink of the pleasures of 
God, and be inebriated with the abundance 
of His house? O chiefest felicity for all who 
hear the most sweet virgin song of the Lamb ; 
yet more abundant still for Christ's virgins, 
who sing it with the Lamb Himself! 

With what carefulness, assuredly, ought 
virgins to keep their lips, to sing that song 
which is to be sung by virgins only I and 
with all purity should they keep them not 
only from every unseemly act, but from every 
sinful, shameful, scurrilous, jocose, yea, even 
idle word. And then virgins' lips will be, as 
is said in the Spouse's canticle :*^As a scarlet 
lace, and their speech sweet." \ As scarlet lace 
are lips that always abound in words of 
ardent charity, since carnal movements and 
thoughts are restrained by them. For by 

* Ps. xviii. II* -^ CaiiX. VI . -i^. 


scarlet is understood the colour of charity, 
by lace that binds the hair the restraining of 
carnal thoughts, which are symbolised by 
hairs. ••' It is, therefore, especially fitting that 
the lips of the spouses of the Lamb, the vir- 
gins of Christ, should be as scarlet lace : that 
their speech should always bum with charity, 
and be reddened with the Passion of the 
Lamb and the Spouse, who ought ever to be 
in their mouth, white and ruddy,! the sweet 
Jesus. And I have no fear of falsehood in 
such lips as these ; for they altogether refuse 
to utter lies, since they speak of the Truth — 
their most sweet Jesus. Scurrilous, shame- 
ful, jocose, and idle words cannot mingle 
with words on His Passion. What, then, is 
more useful, what more lovely, what more 
becoming than the Passion of Jesus Christ ? 
O most sweet and loving Jesus, immacu- 
late Lamb, white by Thine innocence, ruddy 
by the Blood of Thy Passion, how sweet is 
it to think, how wholesome to speak of Thee ! 
For Thou, who are near at hand to them who 

* A common interpretation of m^ieval writers when 
treating of the tonsure. 
f Cant. v. lo. 


speak of Thee, sweetly kindlest the heart,* 
informest the words, and drawest to Thyself 
the affections of all who speak of Thee ; and 
they run in the odour of Thy ointments, 
until they are brought by Thee, O King of 
kings, into Thy st6re-rooms,t and drink the 
most sweet wine of Thy consolation in the 
deHght of their heart, and hear Thy sweet 
voice saying, ^^ Drink, and be inebriated^ My 
dearly belovedy^X and feel themselves unworthy 
to be loved so freely by Thee, O most loving 
and gracious Jesus ! See, then, the tendency 
of words of charity and of the Passion of 
the kind Jesus ; whose Name, which is above 
every name, should be named so often and 
relished so sweetly by no one as by con- 
secrated virgins, His spouses; that never 
may the Name of their most sweet Jesus be 
absent from their mouth, wherewith to Him- 
self, the Lamb of our heavenly Father, they 
alone will sing the new song. Begin, then, 
O virgins, as soon as you may, to enjoy your 
Spouse, bearing Him ever in your mouth, ever 
in your heart ; that your lips may become to 
Him as a scarlet lace and your speech sweet; 
♦ See S. Luke xxiv. 14, 15, 32. f Cant. i. 4. Xlb, v. i. 
Q 2 


that so you may be counted worthy hereafter 
to be kissed with the kiss of His mouth,* and 
to be brought in by Him to the heavenly 
nuptial chamber. 

6. The sixth and last reason for which 
virginity is to be desired is marked by the 
sixth petal of the lily flower. We are shown 
what this reason is by the testimony of Isaias, 
where he says, " To the eunuchs^ that is, to my 
virgins, will I give in my house and within 
7ny walls a place and a name better than of 
sons and daughters; an everlasting na?ne will 
I give them which shall ne^^er faiU^ \ O sub- 
lime merit of virgins ! O excellent glory ! 
O spiritual reward ! Let all virgins read and 
understand and commit to memory this word, 
a good word and sweet ; let boys and guls 
alike rejoice, and let them who have already 
vowed continence perseveringly run, until 
they attain the prize. Let them hear it who 
have not yet made the vow, and let them be 
delighted at the greatness of the rewards: 
that they also may vow the vow of chastity 
to our most chaste Jesus, that they may take 
hold of the most high and narrow path J of 

* Cant. i. I. t Isa. Ivi. 5. % Prov. ii. 19. 


virginity, and going along it may receive the 
prize of an everlasting name, and may deserve 
to inhabit a place far better than that of 
those who have begotten sons and daughters. 
What, then, is, pointed out by this name 
which the Lord promises He will give to His 
virgins? Verily, a peculiar and excellent 
glory is signified,, which shall be for virgins, 
not in common with the many, although in 
the ^ame kingdom with them. Perhaps this 
is why it is called a name) for a name distin- 
guishes from others those to whom it is given, 
as men are distinguished by their own proper 
names. For although all those predestined 
to eternal life will abide in one kingdom^ and 
will enjoy one God, yet, as the Apostle §ays, 
* ^As star differeth from star in glory ^ so is the 
resurrection of the dead J' ^ Th es e are the merits 
of different Saints. For as it is common to 
all the stars to be in heaven, and yet there is 
one glory of the sun, another glory of the 
nioon, and another glory of the stars ; so in 
eternal life itself the lights of different merits 
each shine distinctly. In the house of our 
eternal Father there are many mansions,t and 

* I Cor. XV. 41, 42. \ S. JolxTv^vx . "i.. 


yet one will not live longer than another, for 
all will have eternal life. But in the many 
mansions one is honoured with brighter glory 
than another. What, think you, will be the 
glory with which will shine Christ's virgins 
who follow Him in purity both of heart and 
mind ? They alone shall follow the Sun of 
Justice, Christ, as the Lamb of the Father, 
whithersoever He goeth, and therefore they 
alone are like and most like Him. Hence 
they will be honoured before others, who are 
in the same kingdom, with a more excellent 
brightness, as we see the moon shining out 
beyond the rest of the stars ; and they shall 
possess in the Lord's House a place better 
far than of other sons and daughters, who 
are not distinguished by the merit of virginity. 
Go on'^' then, holy ones of God, boys and 
girls, youths and maidens, celibates and 
unmarried : go on perseveringly to the end I 
Praise the Lord more sweetly, as you think 
of Him more abundantly ; hope in Him the 
more happily, as you serve Him more con- 
stantly ; love Him the more ardently, whom 
you are more attentive to please. Let no in- 

* S. Aug., Dc S. Virg. c. xxxvii. 


centive to vice remain in you, but your whole 
being consecrate and keep for your Spouse, 
who is beautiful above the sons of men.* 
Never t let there be remarked in your virgin 
body the unseemly glance, the wandering, 
the unbridled tongue, the unrestrained 
laughter, the scurrilous jest, the unbecoming 
habits, the proud or careless gait. Render 
no longer evil for evil, or cursing for cursing. X 
And attain at last to that measure of love, 
that, in imitation of your Spouse, you may 
lay down your life for your brethren. § These 
virtues added to virginity show forth to men 
the angelic life, and exhibit on earth the 
manners of heaven. But the greater you 
are, the more humble yoiurselves in all 
things, II that you may find grace with God, 
who resisteth the proud, who humbleth those 
that exalt themselves, and who admits not 
those who are puffed up through the narrow 
gate that leadeth unto life. Let there be 
no superfluous solicitude, and where charity 
bumeth let not humility be wanting. 

* Ps. xllv. 3. + S. Aug. loc. cit, c. liv. 

X I S. Pet. iii. 9. § I S. John iii. 16. 

11 Ecclus. iii. 20. 

232 VlTIS 'SlVSTtCA. 

If, then,''' you have despised the nuptials of 
the children of men, from which you might 
bring forth sons of a man, with all the 
larger heart love the Son of Man who is 
beautiful above the sons of men. Gaze upon 
the -beauty of your Lover, and that very 
thing in Him which the proud deride, look 
how beautiful it is to interior eyes. Look 
upon the Wounds of Him who hangeth on 
the Cross, the scars of Him who riseth 
again, the Blood of Him that dieth, the price 
and the cost of Him that redeem eth you. 
Consider of how great a value these things 
are, weigh them in the balance of charity : 
and whatever of love you deem Him to 
have overpaid in espousing you, pay back 
to Him, who seeks not carnal beauty, but 
desires the interior beauty of your souls, and 
who hath given you power to become the 
sons and daughters of God.t See what 
security you have in loving Him, for you 
have no fear of displeasing Him by false 
suspicions. Husband and wife love each 

*S. Aug., De S. Virginiiate, cc. Iv. Ivi., is slightly 
amplified in this paragraph, 
t S. John i. J2. 


Other, because they see in each other mani- 
festly the signs of love ; and yet oftentimes 
they suspect some evil of each other, because 
they do not look into each other's hidden 
thoughts. It is not so with your Lover, 
Jesus, the most sweet and desirable One, in 
whom you can find nothing with which you 
can find fault ; and there is no fear that He 
who beholdeth the reins and the hearts 
should ever falsely suspect any evil of you. 
If therefore you would owe much love to 
your spouses [if you had them], how much 
more ought you to love Him, for whose 
sake you have refused to have [earthly] 
spouses. Let Him be fixed whole in your 
heart, who for you was fixed whole on the 
Cross ; ever bearing in mind what great 
charity He has manifested to you. 

He, who has preserved you for Himself 
intact both in body and soul, how great and 
what a special glory has He prepared for 
you, whom He has raised so high I A 
special glory, I- say, that special crown He 
has granted you in heaven, which our 
Fathers call the Aureola, And I consider 
it is so called from gold — ab auro^ in order 


that the very name of the crown, which is 
to be given you for the reward of virginity, 
may suggest the excellence of virgin glory. 
What shall be given to the consecrated 
virgins of Christ? A pre-eminence above 
other Saints such as gold has above other 
metals. For Isaias Says : " /// that day the 
Lord shall be a crown of glory ^ atid a garland 
of joy to the residue of His peopled * Mark ! 
A crown is made of gold and precious 
stones : a garland is made of flowers, such 
as roses, violets, and the like. Mark how 
great a thing it is to have God Himself for a 
crown ! and virgins not only shall have God 
for their crown, for this is common to all the 
glorified; but they shall have Him for a 
flowery wreath of joy, their prerogative of 
spiritual excellence, which in the heavenly 
country shall appear in virgins. What is 
^'^X. place far better than of sons of God?t 
What is that everlasting name ? What is that 
aureola? It is very great and such as cannot 
be explained to those who know it not ; and 
hence you must run after it with great eager- 
ness, you must persevere in its search with 
* Isa. xxviii. 5. f /^/(f. Ivi. 5. 


great fortitude, for they alone can know it 
who possess it 

In commemorating the special grace, freely 
• granted to virgins by their Spouse, and ,the 
special glory equally prepared for virgins in 
heaven by Him, we have been desirous to 
stir up the minds of pure virgins to the 
special love of their heavenly Spouse, the 
kind Jesus, so far as He, the author of virginity 
and love, has vouchsafed to grant us power. 
And now, prosecuting our work in due order, 
we may endeavour to add a few words on the 
love of our neighbour, without which the 
love of God doth not subsist ; for " on these 
two commandments dependeth the whole law 
and the prophets r '•' 

* S. Matt. xxii. 40. 


chapter xxxiu 


|HE floscules " of a golden colour 
and six in number which stand in 
the lily in the centre of the white 
flower, typify the charity which we must have 
towards our neighbour ; and this consists in 
the six works of charity, which are also 
called works of mercy. S. Gregory says : 
" The proof of love is the manifestation 

* Flosculi. The term is now employed by botanists 
to designate thfe monopetalous florets, of which a number 
enclosed in one calyx form what are called a compound 
flower. In this chapter it is used to denote the pistils 
and stamen, the former of which carry the stigmas that 
receive the pollen from the anther on the head of the 
stamen. Golden stigmas would thus be the strictly 
correct term here, and stamen for IhQ^oscule mentioned 
further on. 


►f works." * And that specially beloved 
Apostle] of our Lord, S. John, says : ^^He 
vho hath the substance of this world, and 
hall shut up his bowels fro7n him : how doth 
he charity df God abide in himV^\ ^^ He 
hat loveth not his brother, whom he seeth, how 
an he love God, whom he seeth not ? " | 
►Moreover, the works of mercy by which the 
:harity of God is manifested, the Truth 
iimself has taken care to explain, when 
le shows that on account of these alone 
le will praise the just in the Day of the last 
udgment, and for lack of the^e will condemn 
he reprobate. He says : " When the So7i of 
naji shall co?fie and sit upon the seat of His.^ 
'lajesty, and shall set^ the Just on Jits right 
'and, and the reprobate on the left, the King 
"himself shall say to the?n that shall be on If is 
ight hand. Come, ye blessed of my Father, 
OSS ess you the kingdom which Hs prepared for 
ou. For I was hungry, and you gave Me to 
at ; I was thirsty, and you gave Me to drink; 
"" was a strafiger, and you took Me in; 

* Probatio dilcctionis, cxhibitio est operis.^^. Greg. 
T., Horn, in Evang. xxx. 
t I S. John iii. 17. \ ^Ibid. iv. 20. 


naked ^ and you covered Me ; sick ofid in 
prison, and you visited Me, As long as you 
did to one of the least of Mine, you did it to 
Me. Then He shall say to them who shall be 
on the left Jiand, Depart, you cursed, into ever- 
lasting fire. For I was hungry, and you gave 
Me fioi to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave 
Me not to drink; I was a stranger, atid you 
took Me not in; naked, and you covered Me 
not; sick and in prison, and you did not visit 
Me, As long c^ you did it not to one of the 
least of Mitie, neither did you it to Me,** * 
Behold the works of mercy proceeding from 
the root of charity. We must therefore 
consider of what great value those works 
are, which alone deserve to be praised at the 
strict account ; and their value is expressed 
in the golden colour of the floscules of the 
lily. Of no avail is the purity of the white 
flower, that is, virgin chastity, without the 
works of charity. 

But what are we to say about those who, by 

reason of their lack of this world's substance, 

cannot fulfil this actually, whether they remain 

in the world, or have renounced the world 

* S. Matt. XXV. 31-45, abridged. 


and all that they possessed and have followed 
Christ in nakedness? Will all these be 
reprobate because they cannot minister to 
Christ in works of mercy ? God forbid. Not 
those who lack the power ^ but those who 
lack the will^ will be condemned. For he 
does not shut up his bowels, that is his com- 
passion, from his neighbour suffering want, 
who would help him if he could ; and our 
Lord who seeth the heart is satisfied, if only 
the will be there \ nay, He even reckons the 
will for the deed. No one, then, will be able 
to excuse himself from giving to every one 
who asks him either' in deed or in will. They 
who are not able to give may not excuse 
themselves. Those who have been unfor- 
tunate, as well as those constrained by 
voluntary poverty, are yet bound to give the 
will. Now let each examine himself and see 
if he has this will. When you see the poor, 
or the sick, or the stranger, and are moved 
by no compassion, but pass such by, and do 
not even pour out a prayer or a sigh for 
them, have you the will to give ? Certainly 
not. For if you divide not the affection 
of charity with your needy neighbour, it is 


precisely as though you did not compassion- 
ate a suffering one. And if you do not weep 
with him that weeps, how would you [if you 
had it] divide your out\vard substance with 
him? If you do not give the feeling of 
compassion, which more abounds the more it 
is given away, how would you give your 
worldly substance, which is lessened when 
divided ? Therefore, as often as we see any 
one in need, let us recognise Christ in him ; 
for even that indigent man is a member of 
Christ. Let us not shut up the bowels of 
our compassion from him, and by this we 
shall know that the charity of Christ abideth 
in us. Especially let Christ's virgins have 
within the white flowers of virgin purity these 
golden floscules of charity, without which no 
purity of chastity, no toil of suffering, no 
fulness of knowledge, will find an entrance 
within the gate of eternal life. 

No less mefcy, yea, even much more, is to 
be shown to those unhappy ones who are 
wandering out of the way of the right faith, 
or of the works of faith, and lie wallowing in 
the mire of sin, whether they acknowledge 
their sins or not; and to them we must 


break, that is, incline to mercy by our prayers 
and tears, that heavenly Bread of angels, our 
sweet Jesus. Likewise also they, to whom 
the Lord has given understanding, should 
break the bread of Holy Scripture to such, 
and set it before them, praying our Lord to 
deign to open their eyes, that they may 
acknowledge Him, and heal the palate of 
their hearts, that they may taste and see 
how altogether sweet the Lord is, and may 
know Him in the breaking of bread, that is, 
in the Holy Scripture; for their eyes before 
were held that they should not know Him,* 
by [reason of] the mire of sins which lay 
upon them. We must break the bread of 
consolation to those who are in distress, 
whether in sickness of body or in grievous 
poverty themselves or their friends ; ^o 
that according to the advice of the Wise 
Man we may give " strong drink to them that 
are sad^^ and the sweet wine of consolation 
"A? them that are grieved in mind; "+ having a 
will rich unto all; not only to our friends 
and to those who are of the household 
of faith, but even to our enemies, that we 
* S. l.uke xxiv. 16, 35. t Prov. xxxl, 6. 

242 17TIS MYSTIC A. 

" may be tht children of our Father who is 
in heaven^ who tnakdh His sun to rise upon 
the good and the bad^ afid sendeth rain on the 
just and upon t/ie unjust:' * But, perchance, 
some one will say: "What does my God 
lose by His bounty in giving His sun and 
rain to the bad as well as the good?" 
Nothing, I , say ; yea, He even gains. For 
oftentimes the bad are convinced by the 
multitudes of the good and the benefits 
of God, and are converted from their evil 
ways. And now do you tell me : " What 
do you lose, if your charity, which as the 
sun illuminates all other virtues, the rain 
of your tears, you divide even with your 
enemies, by praying and weeping for them, 
that some day they may enter into their own 
hearts and acknowledge their errors^ and re- 
cover the unity of charity ? " Oh ! if you did 
but know the goodness of our most good 
God, and how good He is who admonishes 
y«u to pray for those who persecute and 
calumniate >-ou,f and what a great reward 
He prepares for them that offer such prayers 1 
Verily you ivould long ago have asked of 


Him, and He would have given the sun of 
such charity as that, and the rain of such 
tears; for He giveth liberally to all, and 
upbraideth not, and with Him is the foun- 
tain of life, and- in His light we shall' see 
light, even the true Light which enlighteneth 
every man, our sweet Jesus. After His 
example, then, divide your charity; divide 
your tears with your enemies as well as 
with your friends, that you may be the 
child of your Father who is in heaven, 
and the brother and imitator of the Lord 
Jesus, who wept over the sinful city, and 
prayed for His murderers that they might 
not • perish. 

And now we are close upon the end of 
this flower. The floscule standing up high in 
the middle of the golden floscules, longer 
than all the rest, denotes the Godhead, who 
is over all God blessed for ever, Amen. 
This floscule [or stamen] has one triangular 
headj by which the Poly Trinity is pointed 
out For the one head is a figure of the 
unity of the divine substance, and the three- 
corners standing up and distinct from each 
other mark the Persons of the Blessed 
R i 


Trinity. This floscule is the highest in the 
virgin lily ; because the Lord's virgin must 
refer all her thoughts, all her will, all her 
words, all her actions, all the purity of her 
body and of her heart to the honour of her 
heavenly Spouse. For, if she seeks her own 
glory, she will have a lamp, that is a pure 
body, but she will lack the oil of spiritual 
gladness and the fire of charity. Now, we 
know what the Spouse will say to those 
virgins who shall have lamps without oil, — 
a word horrible not only to hear, but even to 
think of — ^^ Nescio vos^ I know you not"* 
O sharp word ! Deliver us, Lord Jesus, 
while there is yet time for deliverance, 
deliver us poor sinners from the snare of the 
hunters, that we may not hereafter hear that 
sharp word.t We know that our adver- 
sary, that most cunning serpent, spreads in- 
numerable and most subtle snares for us; 
so that those whom he cannot turn away 
from good works, he may at least by his evil 

• S. Matt. xxv. 12. 

t Psalm xc. 3 : " Ipse lihcravit mede laqueo venantium 
tt a verba asperol' (He hath delivered me from the snare 
of the hunters, and from the sharp word.) 


suggestions cause to glory in their good 
works. You may suppose how he foams 
with rage, how he gnashes his teeth, when he 
sees tender young virgins from the first 
dawn of their childhood despising the king- 
dom of this world and all secular pomp, and 
scaling the steep path of virginity. You 
may imagine how many snares he spreads, 
now for the root, now for the stalk, now for 
the white petals, and now for the golden 
floscules of the lily of virginity, so as to 
induce them in one or other of theu: good 
works to seek their own glory, and thus not 
attain to the summit of perfect virginity. 
But let Christ's virgin ever gaze upon the 
Face of her Spouse, so as to do all for Him, 
to refer all to Him, in all things to seek Him, 
and to say with Him : " / seek not my own 
glory* but I honour my Lord, and He will 
honour me, for He alone is my refuge and 
my glory, and He is the lifter up of my 
head, my sweet Jesus ! " If any virgin thus 
shall speak and thus shall act, she shall be 
a perfect lily, and she shall bloom for ever 
before the Lord, and in her Lord and in her 
* S. John \\\\. so. 


Spouse ; and her Lord and her Spouse shall 
bloom in His own Self, for He cometh down 
into the garden of His Church to gather such 
lilies as these. 

We have taken pains to treat thus at some 
length on the flower of the -spiritual lily, with 
which the Lord Jesus our Vine and our Life 
pre-eminently blossoms, for the sake of the 
virgins to whose knowledge we think this 
treatise will come. And we have done it 
with greater diligence, in order that here they 
may find drawn up compendiously — and may 
more easily commit to memory, reading it 
the mofe eagerly on account of its brevity 
— what has been treated of by the holy 
Fathers and others more diffusely and encum- 
bered with many weighty disputations, and 
thus, by reason of its difficulty, incapable of 
being comprehended by the simple under- 
standings of simple virgins. We are not afraid 
of the tongues of carping critics, who will 
say that we have not observed due uniformity 
in our subject, in having from a treatise on 
the vine dropped into a treatise on the lily ; 
because we know for certain, that we shall 


be excused by the charity and kindness of 
Christ, the Spouse of virgins, whom in this 
treatise we confess that we have served as 
far as we know how. In His hand are we, 
and our words ; and Him, as we firmly hope, 
we have followed in the treatment of this 
subject, not seeking the glory of [being] 
teachers, but the fruit of our scholars. 
Nevertheless, as far as I understand, there 
is no flower whatever with which our Vine 
blossoms more abundantly, and no other 
flower whose fragrance is so attractive as 
that of this lily. For this is that virgin 
virtue, by love of which so many young 
maidens are drawn, and run so freely; in the 
odour of the ointments of their Spouse, cry- 
ing out at once in word and deed: ^^Draw 
us after Thee, we ivill run in the odour of Thy 
oint7nentsy '' What is it that so many thou- 
sand virgins love, despising the allurements 
of the world ? \NhaX is it, I say, that they 
love in their Spouse, with the delightfulness 
of whose virtue they are attracted, so much 
as the odour of the lily, the love of vir- 
ginity? Let us, then, be permitted espe- 
* Cant. i. 3, 


daily to commend this flower in our Vine ; 
for none is more precious, none more beau- 
tiful in the Vine itself." Now, however, let 
us pass on to a more compendious treatment 
of other flowers. 

* Compare Montalembert : "Who is this invisible 
Lover, dead upon a cross eighteen hundred years ago, 
who thus attracts to Him youth, beauty, and love? 
who appears to their souls clothed with a glory and a 
charm which they cannot withstand ? who darts upon 
them at a stroke and carries them captive ? who seizes on 
the living flesh of our flesh, and drains the purest blood 
of our blood ? Is it a man ? No : it is God. There lies 
the great secret, there the key of this sublime and sad 
mystery. God alone could win such victories, and de- 
ser\'e such sacrifices. Jesus, whose Godhead is among 
us daily insulted or denied, proves it daily, with a thousand 
other proofs, by those miracles of self-denial and self-de- 
votion which are called vocations. Young and innocent 
hearts give themselves to Him, to reward Him for the gift 
He has given us of liimself \ and this sacrifice by which 
we are crucified is but the answer of human love to the 
love of that God who was crucified for us." — Monks of the 
West, vol. V. pp. 360, 361. 


Ctiapter xvxiiU 


JUR Vine, the kind Jesus, blooms 
[not only with the violet and the 
lily, but] equally with the red and 
glowing rose : red with the Blood of His 
Passion, glowing with the fire of His charity, 
and full of dew with the tears of our sweet- 
est Jesus. For He wept and was sorrowful 
for us^-He, my joy, yea, the angels* joy, our 
Lord Jesus— who, as the Apostle says : " Who 
in the days ofHisJiesh, with a strong cry a?id 
tears offering tip prayers and supplications to 
Him tliat was able to save Him from deaths 
was heard for his reverence,^* * Thou hearest, 
* Heb. V. 7. 


O my heart, not of flesh but of stone, thou 
heaxest that that great and most good Jesus, 
in the days of His flesh, which He took for 
my redemption, was wet with His own tears, 
and dost thou remain still dry? O hard 
heart ! Thou hearest that for me He was 
moved to tears who standeth fast for ever 
and shall not be moved, and art not thou 
yet moved to tears ? I will apply to thee 
also the fire of charity, and the Blood of 
His Passion, if so be thou wilt be warmed, 
and be softened, only so far as to repay 
tears at least to thy sweet Jesus in return 
for His tears, and for the pouring out of 
His 31ood. Further, I will add also that 
heavy hammer, and drive into thee those 
iron wedges that thou mayest be rent asunder. 
For if thou art hard and dry, O my heart ! 
like earth without water, thou mightest even 
a little be softened when watered with the 
mere tears of Jesus weeping. But if from 
the biting frost of thy iniquities thou art 
come to the hardness of a stone, then I must 
bring powerful instruments, the hammer of 
the Cross, and the wedges of the iron Nails, 
that when these are driven into thee, thou 


mayest be rent asunder, and pour forth the 
healthful fountain of tears. ' 

But if even thus thou art still unmoved, 
O hard and impenitent heart! then thou art 
harder than the flint-stone, which, struck by 
Moses in the desert, sent forth waters in 
abundance; especially since the hammer ot 
the Cross of our Lord striketh far more 
powerfully than the rod of ^oses, and the 
three iron Nails driven into thee ought to be 
more effectual to draw out the water of tears 
than the twice repeated blow of the rod of 
Moses. But if even yet thou remainest un- 
shaken, because thou art turned into the 
hardness of adamant, which can only be 
softened with goafs blood; then I apply 
to thee also the abundance of the Blood of 
our most good Jesus, who is at once the 
[scape] Goat, and the Lamb undefiled, warm 
with the heat of His incomparable charity, 
which by its strength broke down and de- 
stroyed altogether that adamantine wall of 
enmities that stood between God and man. 
This wall had lasted through so many thou- 
sand years, and had not been broken either 
by the law or the prophets, that s^xxvo^^ \^. 


with the hammers of divers precepts, warn- 
ings, and threatenings alike ; but when the 
Blood of the Goat and our Lamb, the kind 
Jesus, came, it was not merely broken through 
but even destroyed. The good Jesus, although 
most pure, is called the Goat, which is an 
unclean animal, because He bore our flesh, 
full in us of the uncleanness of sins, though 
in Him it had nothing of the kind. On 
account of His exceeding purity is He 
called the Lamb, who not only has no sin, 
but has taken away the sins of the whole 

In the abundant Blood, then, of this Goat 
and Lamb, be anointed and bathed, 
heart of adamant ! Cast thyself in it that 
thou mayest be warmed, that when warmed 
thou mayest be softened, that softened thou 
mayest pour forth a fountain of tears. For 
there is need of water in great abundance, 
that my people and their cattle may be 
refreshed.- My " people " are the rational 
motions of my mind, which seek those things 
that belong only to my spirit. I have also 
" cattle,*' namely other thoughts, that are 

* See Numbers xx, 8, ii. 


occupied about the flesh, which are bound 
to render service to the soul as cattle. And 
both these kinds of thoughts ought to be 
refreshed with the fountain of tears, that they 
may not faint in the way of this life, nor turn 
out of the straight road, and that what is 
good in them maybe strengthened, and what 
is filthy maybe cleansed; and both these vir- 
tues are found in tears. I will, therefore, seek 
for myself, and God grant that I may find! a 
fountain of tears in the tears, the Cross, the 
Nails, and lastly in the Blood of Jesus, our 
ruddy One.* I will read, then, and under- 
stand, as well as He shall grant me, the 
ruddiness of the Flesh and of the Soul of 
the Beloved of the beloved,t our most loving 
Jesus. He was ruddy in both, that is in 
Body and in Soul : in the Flesh by nature, 
because all flesh is naturally ruddy ; and also 
by the Blood of His Passion, which, by 
His urgent charity for us, so often and so 
abundantly flowed over His Flesh. These 
outpourings of that most sacred Blood we 
remember that we have explained frequently 
in previous chapters; and hence we must not 
* Cant. V. 10. t Ibid, v. 9, 

254 riTlS MVSTICA. 

linger over them here, lest our readers should 
grow weary. 

Yet who, unless he were altogether flesh 
and blood, and had nothing spiritual about 
him, would grow weary of that Blood ? Who 
that wishes to be deliyered from the blood 
that speaketh against him,* has not a devo- 
tion to that most pure and saving Blood of 
our purest Jesus ? Who, that has once been 
inebriated with that most sweet Blood, which 
God in His sweetness hath provided for. the 
poor,t does not thirst for it more and more, 
hearkening to the true voice of the Wisdom 
of God, the Only-Begotten of the Father, 
our most good Jesus saying : " J7iey that eat 
Me shall yet hungef, and they that drink Me 
they shall yet thh'stV^\ If it is true — yea, 
because it is true, — that there is naturally in 
man's blood such sweetness beyond that of 
other blood, that when it has once been 
tasted by any beast of prey, that beast ever 
after desires to taste it again, insomuch that 
it leaves untouched other animals, and lies 
in wait for human blood, and rushes on its 

♦ Compare Ps. 1. i6, and Hob. xii. 24. 

t Ps. Ixvii. II. JEcclus, xxiv. 29. 


own death in the search of it; if this be so, 
what sweetness, think you, has in itself the 
Blood of the Son of Man, Jesus Christ? 
Behold! brutes without reason thirst for the 
blood of meif, and shall not I thirst for the 
Blood of the Son of God ? Beasts, the more 
they taste, the more they thirst for the blood 
of man \ and shall I grow weary of the Blood 
of God and Man, my kind Jesus ? Beasts 
rush upon their own death, attracted by the 
sweetness of the blood of men ; and shall 
I not hasten to my life, even to the Blood of 
the white and ruddy Jesus ? Yea, truly, I will 
make ha^te, I will buy, and I will drink, I will 
buy, without money and without any price, 
wine and milk : * which the Wisdom of the 
Father, the most High, hath kindly mingled 
for us t in the goblet of His Heart, His own 
Blood, the price of our life. Make haste 
then with me, you who love the Lord, buy, 
not with corruptible gold and silver but with 
the change of your morals and your conver- 
sation, wine and milk-— that Blood, I say, 
most pure and precious, which inebriateth 
the perfect as wine, and nourisheth the little 
♦ Mdt probably lac, Isa. Iv. i. f f'rov. ix. 5. 


ones as milk. If thou art perfect, if thou 
art strong, it is wine to thee, that Blood, 
that most unmixed wine of Blood. If thou 
art still weak, and one who has need of milk, 
it is milk to thee for thy nourishment. Drink, 
then, this most unmixed Blood, [drink it] by 
faith, by memory, and by spiritual perception. 
Behold, I reduce again for thee in a com- 
pendious manner the manifold sheddings of 
the Blood of our most bountiful Jesus, by 
which He made ruddy the rose of His 
Passion and His charity. The ardour of 
that charity man's intellect is not capable 
of comprehending, except so far as it com- 
prehends it from His Passion, which was 
manifest to all. 


Ctjapter rrriti- 


ET US consider the rose of His cha- 
rity, before we go on to the rose of 
His passion. We shall estimate the 
-ose of His charity, if we diligently consider 
vho and what kind of Lover He is, how 
luch, and wherefore this merciful and won- 
erful Lover hath loved us. Our Lover is 
\e than whom none is more just, none 
ore rich, none more strong, to whom every 
irit confesses : " Thou art my God, for Thou 
r/ no need of my goods, ^^ * In this short verse 
comprehended who our Lover is : who but 
1 ? And wherefore He hath loved us is 
lered from the next words ; namely, He 
not loved us in order to receive some- 

♦ Ps. XV. 2. 



thing of ours, for He has no need of our 
goods ; but His grace is given gratuitously. 
Even if there were something good in us 
that He could desire, we should possess this 
not from ourselves but from Him. But how 
our Lover hath loved us, he sets forth who 
says : " When as yet we were enemies y we wen 
reconciled to God.*'* The Just hath loved 
the unjust, the only good and kind and 
pious One hath loved sinners and the im- 
pious. O what great condescension ! But 
now we may see how much He hath loved 
us. Who can speak of it enough ? 

* Rom. V. ro. 


Cljapter xxvt). 


[N the explanation of this subject 
we have need to join the rose of 
suffering to the rose of charity, — 
that the rose of charity may be reddened in 
suffering, and the rose of suffering may glow 
with the fire of charity. For our Lover hath 
loved us so much, that the ardour of His 
charity has constrained Him to fall into the 
redness of His Passion, and to deliver His 
soul unto death, even the death of the Cross; 
not a brief and passing Cross, but one which 
lasted from the beginning of His life even to 
the end of His most cruel death. For, as 
we have before commended to your charity, 
the Cross of our most good Jesus Christ was 
not only for one day, but His whole life was 

S 2 


a Cross and a martyrdom. All, therefore, 
that our Lord suffered in the days of His 
Flesh, even up to the redness of His Passion, 
belongs to the rose of suffering, although that 
rose was specially reddened by the frequent 
shedding of His_ most sacred Blood. And 
since we cannot enumerate all that He 
suffered, it should not seem tedious to us to 
go over again the saving sheddings of that 
Blood, in order that what are often comme- 
morated may be more firmly imprinted on 
the tenacious memory. 


chapter rrrtJi* 


j E read of the first shedding of His 
Blood in the Circumcision, when 
His name was called Jesus, already 
signifying by this mystery that, by the shed- 
ding of His Blood, He was to be our true 
Jesus, that is. Saviour. Let tender children,- 
both boys and girls, hearken and understand; 
and let the mature martyrdom of the innocent 
Jesus be iippressed upon their minds. And 
hence Isaias, speaking of the Nativity of the 
same Jesus Christ, says : "-4 child is born to 
us^ whose government is upon His shoulder ^^ * 
The Cross which he signified by the name of 
government, he adds immediately after the 
nativity, because forthwith from the begin- 
* Isa. ix. 6. 


cing of His nativitT there sprang up at the 
same time the suffering of the Cross. It is 
no small part of the praise of the redness of 
His Passion, that Our Saviour was bom in a 
strange place, in the midst of winter, in the 
middle of the night, in a stable of the inn, of 
a poor humble Mother ; and though there ' 
was not there any shedding of His Blood, 
yet even that followed in a short space of 
time, at the interval of seven da]rs. O what 
charity ! O what commendation of His 
charity to us ! Hardly is bom the glory of 
heaven, the riches of heaven, the delights of 
heaven, our sweet Jesus; and behold coupled 
with His recent birth the Cross's ignominy, 
the Cross's pain, and the Cross's poverty ! But 
the misery of the Cross He redeemed, [and 
gave it its] true name of " government" For 
by the Cross He subjugated the whole world 
and hell as well, — He who reigned from the 
wood,* the mighty Jesus. For the sake of 
the Cross, to which He humbled Himself 
and became obedient, God the Father hath 

* Dominus regnavit a ligno. S. Justin Martyr and 
othtT early Fathers maintained that the Jews erased the 
words translated a ligno from "PsaXm-jtcv. \o. 


exalted Him, and hath given Him a name 
which is above every name : that in the 
name of Jesus every knee should bow, of 
those that are in heaven, on earth, and under 
the earth.* Well fitted to Him, therefore, 
at the first shedding of the Blood of that 
most pure Lamb was this name of Jesus ; 
because there it was that He began to shed 
for our Salvation that Blood which in the 
completion of our Salvation was to be all 
poured out. 

• Philipp. ii. 8 — 10. 


Cfjapter xxxnii. 


JHE second shedding of the Blood 
I of Jesus Christ, by which the rose 
il of His Passion is coloured, is found 
in the Bloody Sweat of our kind Jesus pray- 
ing in His agony. For thus says the Evan- 
gelist : ^^And being in an agony ^ He prayed the 
longer. And His sweat became as drops of 
blood trickling doivn to the ground'** If all 
the other sheddings of that most pure Blood 
should cease, would not this alone be able to 
redden our rose sufficiently ? Truly may my 
wretched heart be rent and steeped in tears 
of blood ; for behold my Creator for me is 
bathed in Blood, and that not lightly, but it 
is running down to the earth. Woe to thee, 
wretched heart, that thou art not steeped 

♦ tw I .".U^ xxii. 43, 4^. 


and drenched with such a terrible sweat ! 
Look into the tribulation of that most meek 
Heart, with which it was racked, when the 
Sweat of Blood poured over the whole 
Body from every part. The Body without 
would not have streamed with such a great 
and terrible sweat, if the Heart within had 
not been broken with the anguish of sorrow. 
^^ My heart is broken within w^,"* says the 
Prophet. Therefore when His heart is rent 
within, the skin of our Solomon is also rent 
without. His Sweat of Blood is poured forth 
upon the ground ; reddened is the rose of the 
Passion and charity of Christ, the ruddy Jesus. 
Behold how He is ruddy, yea, how alto- 
gether ruddy. And this general effusion of 
the Blood of Jesus is not without its mystery. 
For He poured out a Sweat of Blood from 
His whole body, who came to bear the infir- 
mities contracted from our flesh and blood, 
in order that it might suffice for the conva- 
lescence and health of the whole body spirit 
ually, the Church, that Sweat of Blood was 
formed from every part of His body, who is 
her Head, our Lord Jesus Christ We there- 
♦ Jer. xxiii. 9. 


fore are delivered from blood.* Thanks be 
to God, the kind Jesus, the author of our 
salvation, who poured forth most liberally 
for us His own Blood ! Or else the Bloody 
Sweat poured from the whole body of our 
Head signified that in His whole Body 
spiritual, which is the Church, the blood of 
martyrs was to be shed, and thereby the 
Church made ruddy. 

♦ Ps. 1. 16. 


chapter xxttiiiu 


|HE third shedding of Blood was in 
the tearing of His cheeks, of which 
we have testimony in the Prophet, 
in the person of the Crucified : " / gave my 
body to the strikers^ and my cheeks to them 
that plucked them '^^ And this some expound 
as referring to the tearing of His cheeks, 
caused by the nails of the impious Jews, and 
others of the plucking out of our Lord's 
beard. Both may have been the truth. I 
believe that was not done without some 
shedding of Blood. I see then, the sacrile- 
gious hands of that most impious nation, not 
satisfied with buffets and blows and spitting 
upon the lovely Face of Christ, but even 
» Isa. \. 6. 


daring to proceed to the tearing of His 
cheeks, and drawing from that most sweet 
Face Blood for the reddening of our rose. I 
see the patience of that immaculate Lamb, 
worthy of all wonder and imitation, with 
which in all gentleness He offered His most 
modest cheeks to be lacerated by the nails of 
those shameless ones, that we might suffer 
patiently, if ever for His sake confusion should 
cover our face,* yea, even if any one should 
smite us on the face for the sake of our sweet 

♦ Ps. Ixviii. 8. 


chapter xxxix. 


||E may find the fourth shedding of 
that most pure Blood on the Crown, 
the Crown of thorns, not lightly im- 
posed, but violently pressed upon the most 
sweet Head of my Head, sweet Jesus. For 
it was consistent with truth that they who 
hated the Truth should seek, not only His 
dishonour, but His torment also. And I do 
not suppose that streams of Blood were 
wanting here j and from that Head, crowned 
in derision and in envy, they flowed down 
upon both the neck and Face of our sweet 
Jesus. For if they had not wished to inflict 
pain as well as derision, they might easily 
have plaited a crown of other branches or of 


the twigs of some tree \ but that they might 
show the stings of their disposition, Him 
who is now crowned with glory and honour 
they crowned then with the sharp points of 
thorns, that most meek Lamb, sweet Jesus. 
And though they crown Him in derision, yet, 
ignorant and derisive as they were, they con- 
fess Him to be a crowned King ; for it is the 
prerogative of kings to be crowned. He is, 
therefore, proved to be a crowned King by 
those who knew Him not; though in the 
thorns appears the malice of them that crown 
Him. Morally, however, we are taught to 
imitate our Head, our King and Captain, 
our sweet Jesus. For if, by the perversity 
of any wicked men, we are ever pricked 
and derided ; when we behold our Head so 
pierced and so derided, we cannot murmur, 
we cannot shrink back from bearing with 
all long-suffering and patience the few trials 
which come upon us in this short life, that 
we may be worthy members of our Head 
and good warriors in following our Standard- 
bearer's footsteps. 

Ciiapter xl 


|H£ fifth reddening of the rose is 
found* in the cruel scourging of the 
meek Lamb Jesus, thus red as a 
rose. Oh in what abundance did that most 
holy Blood from His stricken and scourged 
Body drop dowa to the ground ! Oh with 
what cruelty and foaming impiety, with what 
foaming out of His cruel executioners, was 
scourged our sweet Jesus, who came to de- 
liver us from everlasting scourges ! " They 
have beaten Me with scourges without a 
cause," He says.* Truly without a cause, 
unless perhaps those perverse wretches, who 
held Thy Truth in a lie, judged Thy good 

♦ Response to 3rd Lection in Office for Wednesday in 
Holy Week. 


works worthy of punishment ! Yet even here 
we are morally instructed, that we may learn 
to bear with equanimity the scourge of our 
most kind Fathei>the sweet Jesus, who for 
us unworthy so patiently endured the scourge 
of the most wicked ones. What man ready 
for the scourge, bom to labour, nourished 
and brought up in sins, destined for the in- 
heritance of the heavenly palace, which 
receives none but the pure, what man would 
not suffer the scourge when he sees the King 
of all kings and Lord of lords, the sweet 
Jesus, who did no sin, and in whose mouth 
there was found no guile, broken with such 
grievous scourgings ? Hear, O man foolish 
and without wisdom, hear and learn, and not 
only do not flee away, but even embrace dis- 
cipline, lest at any time thou perish from the 
right way,* and the Lord be angry, who 
spared not His own Son, but delivered Him 
up to be scourged for thee. His own Son by 
nature, consubstantial with Himself, co-eternal 
and impassible. He spared not from being, 
for thy sake, bom in time and passible, from 
being bruised with scourges, as it is written : 

♦ Ps. ii. 12. 


" It pleased the Lord to bruise Him in infir- 
mity,* And how shall He spare thee, His 
son by adoption, when thy senses are prone 
to evil? No. He will bind fast thy jaws 
with bit and bridle, + so that at least vexation 
may give thee understanding ; until thou art 
forced to draw near to Him, who painfully 
yet wholesomely scourgeth every son whom 
He receiveth.J 

* Isa. liii. 10. 

f Ps. xxxi. 9 ; see V. 10. " Many are the scourges of 
the sinner." % ^^' xii. 6. 


Cfjapter rlt 


She sixth shedding of Blood which 
has reddened the rose of the Passion 
is found most abundantly in the 
clefts of the Nails. For who doubts that an 
abundance of that sacred Blood flowed forth 
from the Hands and Feet of the innocent 
Jesus, pierced as they were ; yea, pierced 
through and through? In the streams of 
this Blood our Rose is empurpled; since 
here indeed is found the most ardent charity, 
here the most blood-red suffering. In this 
greatness of sufiering may be contemplated 
the greatness of His charity. Consider the 
glowing of the rose of charity, the redness of 
the rose of suflfering. Who ever suffered such 
grievous, such shameful things ? It is God 


who suflfers : and yet in no way for Himself 
does He alleviate the hard wine-press of suf- 
fering, who is wont in the case of His servants 
to take it wholly away, or else to alleviate 
or to shorten the strength of their torments. 
He spared not Himself, who knows how to 
spare His servants. You see the proof of 
this in the gospel of S. John, where, when 
they who had come to take Him said that 
they sought Him, He added: "/a;wZ^" 
whom you seek. ^^ If therefore ye seek Me^ Id 
these go their way^* O ardour of most true 
charity ! He — charity itself — manifests and 
delivers up Himself to His raging enemies, 
not sparing Himself, and asks [only] for His 
servants that they may be spared ! And then 
taken captive, f after a host of mockings both 
by Jews and Gentiles, after many sheddings 
of His Blood, our Saviour, the most gentle 
Jesus, is pierced through both His Hands 
and His Feet with the pitiless nails, and 
fastened to the wood of the Cross. 

Look well and gaze upon the Rose of His 

• John xviii. 8. 

t Lections iv. and v. in the Office of the Five Wounds, 
or the 3rd Friday in Lent, are taken'from this Chapter. 

T 2 

276 VlTtS MYSTtCA, 

Bloody Passion, how red it blushes in token 
of His most ardent charity I Suffering con- 
tends with charity. Suffering that it may be 
more ardent, charity that it may be more red 
[with Blood]. But by the ardour of charity 
suffering is marvellously made red, for if He 
had not loved, He had not suffered ; and, in 
the redness of His Passion is manifested His 
most great and incomparable charity. Foif 
as the rose, shut up by the cold of the 
night, when the burning sun arises it opens 
out altogether, and stretching out its leaves 
in redness displays its delightful glowing 
[colour] : so the delicious Flower of heaven, 
our most good Jesus Christ, who, for a long 
time, by the sin of the first man, was shut up 
from sinners as it were in the cold of night, 
and did not impart His fulness ; then at last, 
when the fulness of time had come, He was 
opened out in every part of His Body by 
the rays of burning charity, and the glowing 
of the rose of His charity was resplendent 
in the redness of His Blood that was shed. 

See, then, how our most good Vine, the 
ruddy Jesus, blossomed with this flower of 
the rose. See His whole Body ! Where in 


it can you not find the flower of the blood- 
red rose ? Look upon one Hand and upon 
the other ; you may find the flower of the 
rose in both. Look upon His Feet, both 
one and the other; are they not roseate? 
Look into the opening of His side, for not 
even that is without its rose, although this 
may be partially rosy because of the mixture 
of water, since, as the Evangelist relates : 
" When one of the soldiers with a spear opened 
His side, there came out blood and water y* 
For He it is who came by water, and not by 
water only, but by water and blood, even the 
most good Jesus Christ. + O most sweet 
Lord and Saviour of all, good Jesus, what 
worthy thanks shall I ever be able to render 
unto Thee? From the beginning of Thy 
life even to Thy most cruel death, yea and 
even after Thy death, Thou didst shed for 
me Thine own most precious Blood, and 
Thou hast been careful to manifest the 
ardour of Thy most excellent charity by 
such frequent sheddings of Thy Blood ! Oh, 
with what a vast number of leaves is Thy 
rose adorned and multiplied! Who can 
♦ S. John xix. 34. f i S. John v. 6. 


count them all ? Reckon up the drops of 
Blood shed from the most sweet Body of our 
sweetest Jesus, and you will have enumerated 
the leaves of His Passion and His charity. 
For each of the drops of His Blood are the 
leaves of the blood-red rose of His Passion. 

But now let us pass on to other matters, 
since .we have already spoken briefly of the 
seventh shedding of our Lord's Blood, when 
we were teaching about the opening of His 
side, from whence came out blood and water, 
by which we understand the Sacrament of 



Cftapter xliU 


||E perceive that there blossomed also 
on our Vine, the most sweet Jesus 
Christ, the Crocus of abstinence. 
He practised abstinence, not in order to 
chastise His Body and bring it into subjec- 
tion, lest perchance He should become a 
castaway,* but that He might give us a 
model and proof of the value of abstinence. 
Just as, in His Circumcision and Baptism, to 
which He submitted, not for His own cleans- 
ing, for He was most clean and the Cleanser 
of all, but that He might give us a model of 
obedience and justice.! Undoubtedly He 
had the virtue of abstinence, who is the King 

• I Cor. ix. 27. t S. Matt. iii. 15. 


of virtues, and beyond all His Saints past and 
to come He excelled in denying Himself) not 
of necessity, but willingly. Perhaps'an objec- 
tion may be made to us from the words of the 
same Lord our Saviour, speaking of Himself: 
" yohn the Baptist came to the yews neither 
eating nor drinking^ and you said: He hath a 
devil. Again, the Son of Man came eating atid 
drinking, and you say : Behold a man that is 
a glutton and a wine-drinker, a friend of pub- 
licans and sinners y* Behold the testimony 
of the Truth, that John neither ate nor drank, 
and that Jesus Himself both ate and drank ! 
Did John then, in the virtue of abstinence, 
excel pur beloved Jesus ? By no means. 

We must, however, notice that the virtue 
of abstinence is of two kinds. One within, 
in the mind ; the other without, in action. 
And that which is in the mind is always to 
be kept ; but that which is in action is to be 
manifested according to circumstances and 
times. Now S. John, who was mere man, 
practised abstinence both in mind and body, 
lest perchance he might be defiled. But our 
true Man, Jesus, who could not be defiled, 
♦ S. Matt. xi. i8, 19. 


used meat and drink, as occasion served, in 
order that He might draw to the virtue of 
abstinence, and to other virtues, those who ate 
with Him. And do not imagine that it is at 
all a greater virtue to abstain altogether from 
meat, than to use the same meats in modera- 
tion. For it is most difficult to observe a 
perfect moderation in food, so as to take 
nothing more than may suffice for nature, 
and yet not to deprive nature of what is 
needful. If then it happens that one has 
with S. John the virtue of abstinence, so as 
to practise it both in mind and act, let not 
such an one condemn him who abstains with 
our most perfect Jesus, that is, who practises 
abstinence, according as times and persons 
require — now insisting on it and now relaxing 
it — for the benefit of his own body, or the 
profit of his neighbour ; and yet in all cir- 
cumstances observes all that ought to be ob- 
served, so as always to avoid the charge of the 
vice opposed to abstinence, that is, gluttony. 
The extravagances of this vice are pointed 
out in this verse : — 

" Praepropere, laute, nimis, ardenter, studiose." 
(Over hastily, daintily, to excess, ravenously, intently.) 


1. They eat and drink over hastily who 
anticipate the time of meals, out of mere 
pleasure in it, and not obliged by necessity. 
We read, in the " Lives of the Fathers,*' of 
certain holy Fathers who anticipated the 
usual time of taking food out of charity for 
spiritual guests ; but then, eating as they did 
in charity, they by no means considered that 
they had broken their fast, so that even some 
of them did not scruple after such a light 
repast to celebrate Masses. Now, though it 
would not be right for us to deduce an exam- 
ple to follow them in this, since we are far 
from their perfection, yet we may be sure 
that they did these things without sin, for 
they would never have done them but by a 
true revelation of the Holy Ghost. 

2. They eat daintily, who make use of 
delicate meats, attracted thereto by mere plea- 
sure. And these are not satisfied with the 
natural flavour of flesh or fish, such as their 
Creator has bestowed on them ; but in ways 
contrary to nature they hanker after strange 
flavours of spices and various sauces, in order 
to give themselves an appetite for eating ; 
and in this, they axe uol afraid of casting 


blame on the most good Creator of man in 
His creatures, when they are manufacturing 
flavours different to those which the Creator 
of nature bestowed upon them. Oh, how 
should a Christian man avoid flavours of this 
kind, when he remembers that his most sweet 
and most wise Lord made all things very 
good, and none but the evil one has been 
wont to change creatures that are truly good ! 
Has been wont, I say. Since sometimes to 
use more dainty meats in order to remedy 
bodily weakness, when the palate does not 
fancy but refuses its food, is but a slight fault 
or none at all. 

Hence I speak to the shame of those, of 
whom, as the Apostle says, " TTieir god is 
tJuir belly, and their glory is in their shamej^* 
of whom he also asserts weeping that they are 
enemies of the Cross of Christ ; and imitators 
of that most poor and most wretched rich 
man, who used to feast, not once in a way 
for the remedy of his health, but sumptuously 
every day for his own pleasure. For this 
cause, when he was buried in hell, he did not 
deserve to obtain the favour of even a drop 
♦ Philipp. iii. 19. 


of water to cool his tongue burning in the 
flame,* [that tongue] which had been always 
pampered with strange and superfluous deli- 
cacies. He did not deserve to be refreshed 
ii^nith the natural coolness of water, who in 
his pleasures [of the table] had adulterated 
the natural flavour [of meats]. To the shame 
of these gluttons, I repeat, I shall not shrink 
from recalling the opinion of a heathen, so 
that a Christian may blush for his name, when 
he is taught a lesson by an ignorant heathen 
who is better than himself. A heathen, who 
knew not how to reverence creatures through 
the Creator, nor how to endure things bitter 
to the taste for Christ ; for he either did not 
know Him, or did not believe that for him 
Christ on the gibbet of the Cross drank 
the wine mingled with myrrh and gall ; but 
yet, instructed solely by nature, this heathen 
exclaims against the voluptuous : — 

'• O prodiga rerum 
Luxuries, numquam parvo contenta paratu, 
Et quaesitorum terra pelagoque ciborum 
Ambitiosa fames, et lautae gloria mensse ! 
Discite quam parvo liceat producere vitam, 
Et quantum natura petat : non erigit aegros 

♦ S. Luke xvi. 19, &c. 


Nobilis ignoto diffusus consule Bacchus, 
Non auro gemmisque bibunt, sed gutture puro 
Vita redit : satis est populis fluviusque Ceresque."* 

That is, water and bread. This is in com- 
plete accordance with that well-known and 
true maxim : *^ Man's life is water and bread, ^^\ 
And still the most hardened faces of the 
gourmandisers are not subdued by this shame, 
even when smitten with the reproof and 
teaching of the Truth itself, our most true 
Jesus, and also of his Apostle, yea, even of 
a heathen man, and they say : " We are 
Christians." Yet they do not receive the 
voice of Christ speaking in His Apostle, and 
admonishing them, ** Make not provision for 
the flesh in its concupiscences '^\ And hence it 
frequently has occurred that while as yet their 

♦ Lucan. lib. iv. vers. 373, &c. These lines may be 
thus rendered, in default of a better translation: — 

** Luxury, lavish of wealth, and never content with a little ! 
Craving tor savoury meats, the spoils of the earth and the ocean I 
Ve who covet the glory of having the daintiest table ! 
Learn for how small a price your life may really be lengthened. 
And instead of all that waste how little nature requireth. ^ 
*Tis not your generous wine, renowned for its age and its vintage. 
Precious as gold or gems, that brings back health to the languid 
But a pure and simple fare calls again the life that was ebbmg. 
Bread suffices for food, and the popular drink is the river.** 

t Ecclus. xxix. 27. "The chief thing for man's life 
is water and bread, and clothing, and a house to cover 
shame. '- 

X Rom. xiii. 14. . 


meat was in their mouth, the wrath of God 
came upon them ; * and they who have passed 
their days in the worst ends, in a moment 
descend into hell; where the worm that 
feedeth upon them dieth not, and the fire is 
not extinguished, receiving instead of their 
brief delicacies everlasting evils.f 

3. What it is to eat foo much is familiar to 
all. For he eats too much, who takes more 
nourishment than may suffice to support 
nature, especially if he does this knowingly. 
Since it not seldom happens that a man, 
looking forward to his labour, takes more of 
ordinary food, in order that he may support 
his labour; and then, from fear of sinking 
under it, he goes beyond the measure of his 
meal. And I suppose that hardly any one is 
free from this sin. But such sins are, as soon 
as they are detected, to be purged away by 
frequent confessions, mingled with voluntary 
abstinences. And in no sort of food is that 
vice of excess in meat and drink to be ex- 
cused. We read that ^^the sin of Sodom was 
fulness of breads and abundance;'^ % and the 
devil coming to tempt oiir Lord tempted Him 
• Ps. Ixxvii. 30, 31. t S. Luke xvi. 25. J Ezech. x\'i. 49. 


with nothing else than with bread ; for he 
knew that in undue taking of bread sin was 
not wanting, since he deceived our first 
parents, and through them all mankind, by 
the eating of a single apple. However, in 
common food the due limit is not so easily 
exceeded, when the taste is not flattered, as 
in meats daintily prepared, and in new-fangled 
savoury dishes. 

4. To eat greedily is to take meat or drink 
with too great a longing; and this may 
happen with common as well as with delicate 
meats. We have an example of this in Esau, 
who, attracted by the pleasure he took in 
some common food, readily sold his birth- 
right. For thus Genesis relates, that Esau, 
coming out of the field, saw Jacob his brother 
boiUng pottage of lentiles, and said to him, 
" Give me of this red pottage^ for I am exceeding 
faint, ^^ And when Jacob had made a bargain 
with him about the selling of his first birth- 
right, he ate voraciously of the pottage he 
had longed for overmuch, and lost the dig- 
nity of the first birthright. For he had too 
greedily longed for the pottage of lentiles. 
"Zi?, I die;' said he, ''what will the first 


birthright avail tneV^* There is no doubt 
that he greedily ate, when he got it, that 
which he so greedily longed for. O Lord, 
most merciful Jesus, have mercy on me a 
miserable sinner, for I feel that I never pass 
a day without some sin of this kind; and 
grant that for such transgressions I may not 
deserve to lose the dignity of Thy faith, by 
which I am made Thy son ! We have, besides, 
examples of the opposite virtue, such as Elias 
and S. John the Baptist, those most holy men 
who took no flesh at all, and we know that 
by so doing they lost not a particle of merit 
through the sobriety of their temperance. 

5. To eat intently is to linger too long 
over one's meat and drink. We speak of this 
from experience. And would to God that we 
had not experienced it, nor ever should do 
so ! It is a common and usual occurrence, 
that, when one has taken food such as 
generally may and ought to suffice for his 
needs, a new kind of pleasure arises, which 
makes a man who is careless, and heedless 
of the devil's snares, cleave to that food witb 
such earnestness as though he had takei 
♦ Gen. XXV. 29—34. 


nothing before, or as though after this he 
was going to take nothing for many days. 
But they who catch themselves out in this 
form "of gluttony, may, by God's assistance, 
easily resist it ; for its onslaught does not 
last longer than the time taken in rising from 
table, and the memory of that which was de- 
sired with such longing vanishes away. There 
are many, however, who do not regard such 
fondness for eating as a sin, nor do they yield 
credence to anyone who. suggests that it is; 
for they are held in bondage by the damnable 
habit of not resisting any desire which can 
be excused by any shadow of a natural want, 
and they put no bounds to their desire of 
eating, until, in time, they leave off through 
weariness. But a Christian man eats in order 
to live : he does not live in order to eat, as 
someone says. And so that verse of the poet 
concerning the useless and the greedy suits 
them well : — 

*• Nos immerus sumus, et fruges consumere nati." ♦ 

(A numerous tribe are we, and our destiny is to eat fruit.) 

But not so a Christian. He always rises 

from table so as to have still some appetite 

♦ Horat. lib. i. Epist. 2. 


for more, and he conforms that appetite 
which would fain be filled with meats as a 
grateful offering to the Lord Jesus, who for 
our salvation was pleased often to be hungry 
and thirsty. By these and other similar 
reasons a man was once led to afflict himself 
with such abstinence, that wasted with over 
much privation, he fell into a long illness, so 
as to be altogether incapable of being of use 
either to himself or to others ; yea, he became 
a burden to all, even to those whose burdens 
he ought rather to have lightened. But who 
teaches these follies ? What wise man prac- 
tises them ? Such enthusiasts forget that 

"Virtus est medium vitionim utrumque reductum." ♦ 
(Virtue is the happy mean 
That checks each vice and steers between.) 

For there is a middle course between eating 
too much and abstaining too much; and 
that middle course is virtue ) that is, to take 
so much nourishment as that nature may not 
be weakened, and yet not so much as that 
vices may grow. And if a man cannot 
altogether observe this middle course, yet he 
can avoid swerving too much from the happy 

* Horat. lib. i. Epist. i8. 


mean. In other words, that he who eats less 
than he ought should not abstain too much ; 
and he who exceeds the due measure of 
eating, should not exceed it too far; and 
thus the body will not be pampered with 
vices, but preserved in virtue. 

The point in which the flower of the 
Crocus signifies abstinence is shown by its 
colour. For abstinence makes its votaries 
sallow, like the yellow crocus flower. The 
face cannot be rubicund with a stomach 
given to abstinence. Again, the numerous 
flowers of the Crocus point out many forms 
of abstinence. For there is not only absti- 
nence from meat and drink, but also from 
sleep, from luxury, from clothing, and other 
conveniences which are superfluously be- 
stowed on the body, as baths, unguents, 
musical instruments, and sweet songs, and 
things of this kind, which corrupt men's 
senses, and subvert their minds. Moreover, 
some crocus petals are of a red colour, and 
this signifies that charity ought always to 
be mingled with the practice of abstinence ; 
since, if without charity one should deliver 
his body to be burned, it profiteth Kuxv 
U 2 


nothing.* For there are some who, not for 
the sake of the charity of God, but for the 
sake of vain glory, afflict themselves by absti- 
nence, as the Truth itself, our Lord Jesus, 
shows, when He says to His disciples : 
" When you fast ^ be not as the hypocrites ^ sad. 
For they disfigure their faces, that they may 
appear unto men to fast. Amen, I say to 
you, they have received their reward" t Where- 
fore ? Because they are not the true crocus 
who lack the red leaves of charity, without 
which no work is perfect. For charity is the 
virtue of which it is said : " He who hath 
one hath all ; and he who hath not this, 
even that which he hath shall be taken from 

♦ I Cor. xiii. 3. f S. Matt. vi. 16. 

Cf)apter jrltiK 


|ET US now come to the odour of 
our Vine, and let us beg the same 
sweetest Jesus, that He would deign 
to breathe over our hearts the fragrance 
of His perfume, that we may be able both to 
feel and to speak sweet things of Him. But 
what can we say of this perfume ? Wonder- 
ful and priceless, beyond all that can be be- 
lieved or thought, is this perfume of our 
Vine. There have bloomed other branches, 
— the Saints, — in whom, indeed. He Himself 
bloomed : but assuredly those men were 
wont to cry out to Him alone our Head, the 
most good Jesus, as that spiritual spouse, 
" Thy breasts are better than wine; smelling 
sweet of the best ointments. Thy name is as 


oil poured forth ; therefore young tnaidais have 
loved Thee, Draw me after Thee; we will 
run in the odour of Thy ointment s.^^* It is not 
wonderful if the odour is above all price 
which proceeds from this our flowering Vine, 
if we diligently attend to its names, which 
are J^esus, Christus^ Nazarenus, — Jesus, 
Christ, of Nazareth. J^esus, as you know, is 
interpreted Salutaris vel Salvator, — Saving 
or Saviour^ — of which the Psalm speaks : 
" Converte nos, Deus salutaris noster, — Con- 
vert us, O God our Saviour." + And, again : 
* Thou hast saved us from them that afflict 
usJ^X Who that is in affliction does not 
wish to be saved ? If you wish to be saved 
and to be drawn by the odour of this saving 
Name, which is poured out as oil, begin by 
taking your delight in our most sweet Jesus, 
and seek salvation with confidence in the 
true Saviour. Imitate not those who are 
delighted when they have done evil and re- 
joice in the worst of things, in which they 
imagine their salvation stands* But rather 
imitate Her whose spirit rejoiced in God her 

♦ Cant. i. I, 2, 3. t Ps. Ixxxiv. 3, 

f Ps. xUii. 8. 


Saviour,* and who drank in the odour of this 
saving Name all the more sweetly, and felt it 
the more perfectly, as she was nearer to Him 
in faith, hope, and charity ; for she had con- 
ceived in her womb His own self, true and 
perfect God and Man, Jesus the Saviour. 
She knew well how without carnal concu- 
piscence He was conceived, how without any 
pain He was bom of her, how He was 
preached to the shepherds, adored by the 
Magi, how He was nourished by her virgin 
milk, and how He was glorified by Simeon 
and Anna, ^he knew, I say, all these things, 
and many more, that most faithful Virgin, 
and with most perfect faith she followed the 
saving odour of the true Saviour. And she 
could not but hope in Him whom she knew 
by most perfect faith had the power, the 
knowledge, and the will to save all that desire 
salvation. For as a man believes so he 
hopes ; as he ho'^es so he loves. As, then, 
this best of mothers was more perfect in 
faith, so was she more strong in hope, and 
more fervent in charity, casting all her care 
on Him. 

* S. Luke i. 47. 


" Oleum effusumestnofnm ttmm* Thy name 
is as oil poured forth." And why ? Because 
with oil the sick are healed, the famished 
are fed, the lamps have their light renewed. 
Who is so sick, that will not be healed by 
this saving oil, the Name of Jesus who bring- 
eth salvation, if only he wills to be healed? 
For so said the Saviour Himself to a sick 
man who lay at the pool of Probatica : " Wilt 
thou be made whole ? " And he replied : 
" Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, 
to put me into the pool.'' + O foolish man ! 
Behold the oil that maketh whole of Jesus 
the Saviour, whose Name is as oil poured 
forth. What hast thou to do with the water? 
If thou wilt receive salvation, behold the 
fountain of the oil of mercy, in which no one 
hinders thee to be baptized ; and His Name 
is as oil poured forth, that is manifested to 
all nations, and sick anointed with this oil 
are healed. When thou hearest and under- 
standest the exceeding mercy of the most 
good Jesus, who for thy redemption came 
down from the Bosom of the Father to earth, 

• Cant. i. 2. See S. Bernard in CanL, Serm. xv. 5. 
t S. John V. 6, 7. 


and redeemed Thee by His most merciful 
Passion, how is it that there springs not up 
in thee the certain hope that He willeth not 
to lose thee, redeemed at so great a price, 
yea whom He came down to redeem ? Al- 
ready while thou art thinking this, hoping 
thus, the oil of the Name of Jesus is poured 
forth to thee. Anoint thyself, that thou may- 
est be healed ; that is, hope in the mercy of 
the Saviour, who saveth all that hope in Him. 
Moreover, this oil feeds thee, if thou art 
famished ; if thou art hungry, He is the Word. 
In this Word of God, our most good Jesus, 
thou findest what will satisfy thee, if thOu be 
willing to incline the ear of thy heart to His 
words and deeds. For whatever our sweet 
Jesus said or did healeth the hungry soul. 
If thou hunger after justice, thou shalt be 
healed by the word of His mouth, who said : 
^^ Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after 
justice; for they shall have their fill*'* One 
may also apply fire to oil; and this is highly 
characteristic of this Name of Jesus ; since 
by the power of His Name faith is confirmed 
and charity is kindled. Few had faith before 

* S. Matt. V. 6. 


the pouring forth of this oil, or before the 
preaching of Thy name, O good Jesus ; few 
burned even with a little fire of charity, put 
after that pouring forth behold how many 
have been enlightened by faith ! How many 
liave burst forth into flames of charity! 
J^etiit odor em — it sent forth its odour,* that is 
a good report, — the oil of Thy Name poured 
forth, the oil of Jesus, and it opened the way 
for Thee to be also Christ, that is, Anointed. 
For so says the Psalm of Thee : " God, Thy 
God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of glad- 
ness above Thy fellows "\ Therefore is the 
oil also ointment : for ointment is made of 
oil and spices. Why, then, is it wonderful, 
if this Vine sent forth an admirable odour, 
since it is both anointed and flowering ? For 
Nazarene is interpreted * flowering.' 

Our Vine, Jesus Christ the Nazarene, — 
that is. Saviour, anointed, and flowering, — 
might well attract all who desire salvation, 
glory, riches, or delights. Let all come to 
this Vine. For J^esus will give salvation, 
since He is the Saviour ; Christ will give a 
kingdom in which are both glory and riches, 
• Cant. i. II. t Ps. xliv. 8. 


since He is anointed^ and this belongs pro- 
perly to kings ; the Nazarene will, give de- 
lights, since He is flowering. And what is 
more delightful than the flower? But many 
flowers — ^yea, all — even all the flowers of vir- 
tues, are in our Nazarene, and by their deli- 
cious odour He has drawn the whole world 
after Him. They who come to Him for the 
sake of humility follow the odour of His 
violet ; they who come for chastity follow the 
odour of His lily ; they who come for charity, 
the rose of His Passion ; and they who come 
for abstinence follow. the odour of the crocus. 
From these virtues of our most good Jesus 
Christ, preachers everywhere, as from most 
precious ointment poured forth, have extracted 
His perfume, and young maidens delighted 
with His wonderful odour have run after the 
anointed Jesus. Even still they run in crowds 
crying out with all their hearts : ** Draw us 
after Thee, that we may run in the odour of 
Thy ointments"* knowing that [the grace to 
do soj is neither of him that willeth, nor of 
him that runneth, but of God alone that 
showeth mercy. + 

♦ Cant. i. 3. t Roni. ix. 16. 


All the odours of all the virtues of our 
anointed Jesus are surpassed by the odour of 
Jesus crucified ; for there His perfection es- 
pecially flowered forth, and from the flowers 
of His Wounds He poured forth a priceless 
odour. For when the alabaster box* of the 
most pure virgin Body of our sweet Jesus 
was broken, then was poured forth the oint- 
ment of His most sacred Blood. The Soul 
also itself, which was redolent with the oint- 
ment of the sevenfold Spirit, was sent forth, 
and the odour of our flowering Vine was 
spread abroad and scattered, not only through- 
out the earth, but even throughout hell ; and 
the dead were raised to life, as indeed they 
are every day raised both to bodily knd spi- 
ritual life ; for the house of Christ, that is the 
Church, is filled with the odour of the oint- 
ment! of our Vine, flowering especially in His 
Passion. The bag is torn asunder, the Body 
of the Lord Jesus is rent, the grains of the 
drops of Blood have fallen out, and they still 
may be gathered up by the faithful in their 
minds, and are gathered by those who come 
near to the Cross in faith and devotion. 
♦ See S. Mark xiv. 3. f S. John xii. 3. 


Most precious treasures and beyond compare 
are the drops of the Blood of Jesus Christ. 

fome hither, O faithful soul, and gather 
up for thyself the remains of the banquet of 
thy Spouse, crumbs full of grace, leaves of 
roses. Behold in what abundance those drops 
trickle both from the Hands and the Feet, 
and also from the Side of our sweetest cruci- 
fied Christ Jesus ! There is no disease of the 
mind of which thou mayest not be healed by 
these flowers. Only gather up the leaves of 
the flowers of our flowering Jesus, the dew- 
drops of His red Blood, and lay them up in 
the chamber of thy heart as remedies.* 
Their taste and their odour shall be for 
wholesome medicine, driving away what 
diseases there may be, and warding off those 
that are about to come. Only take care 
that thou never wish to be without them, for 
they have the true name in every faithful 
Christian mouth of Constant companions^ 
Drink in, therefore, with all the affection of 
thy heart the odour of the true Vine, Jesus 

♦ Literally " pills : " Constant companions. 
t Sine quibus esse nolo, apparently tne name of some 
favourite medicine, like ** Parr's Life Pills." 


Christ of Nazareth, and delight thyself in 
Him, even as His Heavenly Father delighted 
in Him, so that He could truly say : " Behold 
the odour of my son is as the odour ofaplen-- 
tiful fidd^ which the Lord hath blessed.^^* 
Truly plentiful/ In whom dwelleth all the 
fulness of the Godhead, in whom are hid all 
the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, t 

There is yet another reason wherefore the 
Crucified gave forth such a fragrant odour. 
The odour of the body of any animal while 
living is little or nothing ; but when flesh is 
applied to the fire, how sweet and how de- 
licious a firagrant odour proceeds from it 
every one knows. Let us therefore consider 
what a fire was applied to the Body of our 
Vine, and how great that fire was. Interiorly, 
He burned with a conflagration of unbounded 
charity, exteriorly, with the heat of His 
Passion ; and thus Jesus crucified became a 
most ' true, most pleasing, and most healthful 
holocaust on the altar of the Cross. What 
holocaust was ever like this ? None, indeed ; 
for none is mentioned as so wholly burnt. 
And if that is truly called a holocaust which 
♦ Gen. xxvii. 27. f Col. ii. 3, 9. 


is burnt whole, while yet the flesh alone burns 
there, how much more truly may our Victim 
be called a holocaust, since it burned within 
and without with a completeness beyond 
compare. S. Laurence also burned wholly, 
both within and without, S. Vincent, and 
very many others j but none like this Victim. 
For who would venture to compare any tor- 
ment with the burning heat of the furnace of 
the Cross ? But we remember that we have 
given many examples of it before. From our 
Holocaust, the crucified Jesus, burning in a 
manner beyond comparison, a priceless odour 
went forth : and the Lord, even God the 
Father, smelled a sweet savour,* and blessed 
us, and turned away His wrathful indignation 
far from us ; for peace was entirely restored, 
and the Blood of our ruddy Jesus, ours as 
well as His, is the security that ensures that 
eternal peace. Many others also have.smelled 
the sweet savour, and have come running 
from the east and west, from the north and 
south ; and to this Body, flourishing with its 
sweetest odour, they are gathered together, 
that they may satiate themselves with it, al- 
* Gen. viii. 21. 


though it remains entire, and have fulfilled the 
word of the same most sweet Jesus, who says : 
** Wheresoever the Body shall be^ thither will 
the eagles also be gathered together,^'* But this 
Flesh is not eaten raw, it is most thoroughly 
roastedt with the double fire of His charity 
and of His Passion. And hence, inebri- 
ated with its delicious odour, not only men 
of stronger natures, but even the tenderest 
young virgins, run with all the affection of 
their hearts^ and with all the powers of their 
mind, to the delights of the Cross, to draw 
from it their hearts' delight, as far as may be 
in this present life, even the ointments which 
flow out from our Holocaust, who bumeth 
with so fierce a fire. 

The odour of spiritual ointments, or the 
bestowal of the graces, conferred by the Lord 
Jesus on the Apostles after His Passion, have 
added not a little to the delicate odour of 
that burning Body. For before the Passion 
the Spirit was not given, because Jesus was 
not yet glorified. | But when the kind Jesus 
had been humbled and exalted, the ointment 

♦ S. Luke xvii. 37. f See Exod. xii. 9. 

X S. John vii. 39. 


of the Holy Ghost flowed down from the 
Heady that is, from Christ, the Anointed, 
upon the beard *^ that is on those who have 
played the man, and been strengthened to 
overcome in the Lord. And, not only upon 
the beard of Aaron^ that is, not only to 
Christ's Apostles was this unction given, 
which was melted in the fire of Christ's Pas- 
sion, that it might give forth the odour of a 
good report through all the earth ; but // also 
ran down to the skirt of His garment ^ that is, to 
the lowest members of the Church, which is 
as it were the garment of Christ. And the 
Church has been so filled, and is still filled, 
that even upon the Gentiles also is poured 
out the grace of the Holy Ghost :t and they 
perceive the odour of Christ, the spiritual 
ointment, flowing down from the Supreme 
Head of all ; and by it they become pure 
young maidens ; so that they are drawn by 
and love our Anointed One, and run in the 
odour of His ointments. J 

No wonder if they are greatly delighted 
with the odour of our Vine. For it is two- 
fold : one which proceeds from the ointment, 
♦ Ps. cxxxii. 2. t Acts x. 45. { Cant. i. 3. 


another from the flowers. And they scent 
out and follow the sweet odour of Jesus, like 
an animal, which is so delighted with the 
smell of new-baked bread, that wherever it 
perceives it, it follows even to its own de- 
struction. Behold, " the living Bread which 
Cometh down from Heaven^''"^' as He Himself 
testifies, baked with the double fire of charity 
and suffering. He scatters His odours far 
and wide ! Who would not follow Him ? 
The irrational animal follows the odour of 
bread baked and about to be consumed : 
shall not rational man follow the odour of 
the twice baked Bread of Angels? Yea, 
more foolish than animals are they, who do 
not understand the odour and the honour of 
that odoriferous Bread. Moreover, we cannot 
pass over the reflection, that persons about to 
make a sea-voyage, require bread that has 
been twicebaked. And therefore he who 
has known that he is [floating] on the great 
sea of this world ; — which he cannot quickly 
cross because it stretcheth wide its arms; 
and because of the creeping things without 
number;! it is perilous, for it also rages with 

* S. Jolin vi. 51. f Ps. ciii. 25. 


winds and storms ; — if he would be secure, 
let him have this baked Bread, the most 
mighty Jesus, in the ship of his cross, that he 
may eat Him, adore Him, be refreshed by 
Him, consoled by Him, and, in brief, that by 
Him he may be delivered from all perils. 
For if, as the Psalm says, ** There the ships 
shall go i^^ that is, men on their crosses shall 
follow Jesus, what ship has ever gone over 
that sea so grandly as the ship of Jesus cru- 
cified? But according to the sentence of 
S. Paul, who says : ^^ I am crucified with 
Christ ^\ let us also be crucified with Christ : 
let us embrace His Cross, — yea, Himself on 
the Cross, — with unfailing affection of heart ; 
and let us delight ourselves in the lifegiving 
odour of Jesus burning [with love], who says 
of Himself: ^^ As the Vine I have brought 
forth a pleasant odour : and My fiowers are 
the fruit of honour and riches^ and My Spirit 
is sweet above honey, ^^X Yea, I say, let us 
delight ourselves with His odour, let us con- 
» sole ourselves with the ointments of- His 
graces, let us comfort ourselves with the 
heavenly Bread, His own most pure Body. 
♦ Ps. ciii. 26. f Gal. ii. 19. % Ecclus. xxiv. 23, 27. 


And thus eating His Body, and drinking His 
Blood that was shed for our salvation, we 
may be able to taste it to our salvation ; and 
may be permitted to see, through a glass and 
in a riddle, that the Lord is most sweet ; so 
that His own promise may be fulfilled even 
in us, as far as possible in this present life : 
" They that eat Me^ shall yet hunger : and 
they that drink Me, shall yet thirst^' *, 

♦ Ecclus. xxiv. 29. 


chapter vliti* 


IJASTLY, let us consider that flowers 
are delightful both to sight and 
smell. Although they are not ac- 
customed to be eaten, yet they are sucked 
by bees, who make from the juice extracted 
from flowers the sweetest honey. Now these 
bees are figuratively, in my opinion, those 
who have the knowledge and ability to raise 
themselves up on the wings of contemplation, 
and are able to leave their hives, that is the 
care of their bodies, and tp fly over the garden 
of delights, in which they find the treasures 
and rich delights of all flowers. For this 
garden is Paradise. And thus you have in 


the Canticle of love : Thy plants^ thy bud- 
dings forth are a Paradise^ O Mary most 
fruitful Virgin.* For this Paradise came 
forth from her virgin womb, replenished with 
every flower and every fruit. The fruits we 
postpone for a time. But let us see, and read, 
or rather suck the flowers of this Paradise. 
And it is right that we should be now bees 
such as know how to suck honey out of the 
rock. For the garden and the rock are the 
same, that is Christ. If then flowers are to 
be sought for, where can they be better 
sought, where more quickly found, than in 
our most sweet Christ ? The flowers of His 
virtues and of His wounds are manifest to 
all. Behold He standeth with outstretched 
arms, with His Body stripped and bare, with 
hands and feet pierced through, with Head 
bowed down ! Be strong now and raise thy- 
self aloft, O my miserable soul ! and on the 
wings of faith and hope betake thee to this 
garden of charity, and collect together on the 
one thing necessary all the attention of thy 
mind distracted by such various objects, and 
after the example of the bees' industry, make 

• Emissiones tuts paradisus : Cant. iv. 13. 


for thyself the honey of devotion, and go up 
to the Paradise of charit)^, drawing nigh to 
that deep Heart;* for behold, He whom thou 
seekest is lifted up and yet humbled. He 
was not lifted up on the Cross that He might 
be difficult of access, but rather that He 
might more readily be found by all. 

Draw nigh, then, with confidence to this 
Paradise, recognise Him in the stretching 
out of His arms, receive His affection which 
is ready for thine embrace, and which in- 
vites thee to His own, and which cries out 
in a manner both pitifully and mercifully : 
^^ Return, return, that we may behold thee A 
Return from thine evil will, from thine evil 
deeds, from obstinacy, from despair. Return, 
I say, to Me, thou who hast turned away 
from Me, that we may look upon thee with 
the look of grace with which I looked upon 
the woman who was a sinner, upon Peter, 
and upon the [penitent] thief! Read Me,, 
who am the Book of life, written within and 
without, and understand what thou readest.J 

* Ps. Ixiii. 7 : Accedet homo ad cor altum. See S. 
Augustine's Comment, in the 2nd Noctum of the Office 
for Holy Saturday. 

f Cant. vi. 12. % Acts viii. 30. 


• Gather for thyself My flowers red with Blood ; 
that thou mayest be able to enter the gate of 
that Paradise, before whose doors are placed 
the Cherubiras with the flaming sword turning 
every way.* For the knowledge which thou 
mayest learn of Me in fulness is able to re- 
move the obstacle of the Cherubim. The 
flowers of My Blood will draw out from that 
turning sword those flames which are so 
dreadful and full of terror for thee. Enter 
then, O soul, that Paradise better than any 
other paradise, now by the sole afl"ection of 
thought, that hereafter in both soul and body 
thou mayest be able to enter the Paradise 
both of earth and heaven !" 

This Paradise is not to be enjoyed hur- 
riedly ; but one ought to hover over each of 
the flowers of that Paradise, and suck [honey] 
from the petals of every single flower, scat- 
tering to the right hand and to the left their 
streams and drops of Blood, and so one should 
approach nearer to its inmost recesses. De- 
votion and the grace of compunction and 
tears, we may seek where we will : and we 
must consider, how cruel are the fastenings of 
♦ Gen. iii. 24. 


the nails I how bitter the tearing through of 
the veins and sinews in the Hands of Him 
who framed the heaven and the earth, and 
who wrought salvation in the midst of the 
earth !* And during the consideration of 
these things we must repeat again and again, 
^^ Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation : "t 
like the bee, which in her flight ever gives 
fortb a humming, and ceases not until she 
enters into a flower, where she gathers and 
sucks out the sweetness of the wished-for 
honey. Oh how happy wilt thou be, if thou 
shalt have been permitted to enter into the 
bleeding flowers — I mean the Wounds — of 
our flowering Paradise ! And, for even half 
an hour, shalt be altogether freed from the 
noise of this world and the onslaughts of. 
temptations, and contemplating Him alone to 
whom thou hast entered in, shalt be able to 
taste and understand how good and how 
sweet the Lord is ! % And thus also must we 
linger over those Feet of His which are no 
less rich in Blood, — no less than His Hands 
are they also pierced through, and torn, drip- 
ping with drops of Blood. 
♦ Ps. Ixxiii. 12. t Ps. li. 14. J i S. Pet. ii. 3. 


Finally, we may draw near to the most 
humble Heart of Jesus the most High through 
the gate of His spear-stricken side. There, 
indeed, is hidden an ineffable treasure of 
charity greatly to be desired. There is new 
devotion ever found. Thence is drawn forth 
the grace of tears. There is learned gentle- 
ness, patience in adversity, and compassion 
for the afflicted. Especially is a contrite and 
a humble heart found there. Jesus Himself 
desires thy embraces : He waits that He may 
embrace thee. His Head that should be 
crowned with flowers is pierced with many 
points of thorns, and He bows it down to 
thee, that He may invite thee to the kiss of 
peace, as though He said to thee : " Behold 
after what fashion I have been formed, how I 
have been pierced, how I have been slain, 
in order that I may lay thee on My shoulders 
— thee My sheep which had gone astray, — 
and bring thee back to the pastures of Para- 
dise. Make Me some return. Be moved 
with compassion over My wounds : and put 
Me, — such as thou seest Me now, — as a seal 
upon thy heart, as a seal upon thine arm,* 

* Cant. viii. 6. 


SO th^t in all the thoughts of thy heart, and 
in all the works of thine arm, thou mayst be 
formed like unto Me, such as thou seest Me 
now. I had conformed thee to the image of 
My Godhead, when I created thee : I was 
conformed to the image of thy manhood, 
that 1 might reform thee. Thou, therefore, 
who hast not retained the form of My God- 
head impressed upon thee in thy creation, 
retain at least the form of thine own man- 
hood impressed on Me for thy regeneration. 
If thou retainest not that which I created thee, 
retain at least thyself as I created thee anew. 
If thouunderstandest not what riches of virtues 
I gave thee ih creation, understand at least 
what miseries in thy manhood I accepted for 
thy sake in thy regeneration, when I formed 
thee again to richer delights than those for 
which I formed thee first. For this cause was I 
made Man and visible, that I might be seen 
and loved by thee, whereas in My Godhead 
when I was invisible I was not loved. Give thy- 
self, then, to Me as the reward of My Incarna- 
tion and My Passion : since it was for thee I 
gave Myself both to be incarnate and to suffer ! " 
O sweetest and most loving Jesus ! Father 


of lights, from whom is every best gift and 
every perfect gift,* mercifully look upon us 
who humbly confess to Thee, and who truly 
feel that without Thee we can do nothing. 
Thou who gavest Thyself a ransom for us, 
grant, although we are far from being worth 
such a price, grant us so to render ourselves 
wholly unto Thee, that, being conformed to 
the image of Thy Passion, we may be re- 
formed after that image which we lost by sin, 
— even the image of Thy Godhead ! 

We must not omit to notice that, from the 
juice of the flowers which they gather, bees 
make their comb, that is, the wax which con- 
tains within it the honey. What is the signi- 
fication of this ? By wax, which is adapted 
to receive the form of a seal, and to feed the 
flame of a candle, if there be a wick in it, 
understand a retentive memory. And this 
wax contains within it the most sumt^ purify- 
ingy and dear-dropping honey. Now we, if 
we are truly spiritual bees, may from the 
flowers of our Paradise of Nazareth, — that is, 
of the flower-garden of Christ who is rich in 
flowers, — ^we may compose for ourselves a 
♦ S. James i. 17. 


retentive memory, such as cannot be dis- 
solved by any temptation. And that memory 
may be adapted to receive the impression of 
the seal, — that is, of Jesus crucified, — that 
we have ever in our memory Him, who says : 
" Put Me as a seal:' * The King's Seal is the 
Cross. And if we bear this in the memory 
of our heart, we may pass safely through 
all the great King's dominions, which have 
no end- This seal has the image of Jesus 
crucified, graven with many a stroke, and 
stamped upon the very seal of the Cross; 
just as in seals the image of kings is stamped 
by engraving. It has also a superscription,! 
the title written by Pilate : " J^esus of Naza- 
reth, King of the yews, — yesus Nazarenus, 
Rex yudceorum:^ The spiritual meaning of 
this superscription will be attained by any 
- one who takes care to bear this seal of the 
Cross imprinted on a retentive memory. He 
will have yesus, that is salvation, which is 
the first word in the superscription. Now 
salvation, which is desired by all people of 
sound mind, consists in three things, which 

♦ Cant. viii. 6. 
f Compare S. Matt. xxii. 20 with S. Mark xv. 26. 


are expressed in three words, — [Nazarenus, 
Rex, yudceorufn\. In this word Nazarenus, 
which is interpreted * flowering,' understand 
pleasure or delight, because the beauty of 
flowers gives delight And hence in the 
Book of Wisdom the pleasure of the luxurious 
is expressed in these words : " Let no meadow 
escape our riot : let us crown ourselves with 
roses, before they be wither ed^ * In the word 
Rex, riches are expressed. For kings are 
accustomed to be rich, and more so than all 
over whom they reign. In the word ytidce- 
orum, glory is understood : because yudcms 
is interpreted in one way, * He who glories.' 
Therefore he who of his own will bears the 
Seal of our King, Jesus crucified, will obtain 
salvation, namely, the attainment of everlast- 
ing pleasure, being made to drink of the 
torrent of the pleasure of the Supreme King.f 
He will also treasure up eternal riches in our 
most good Jesus, in whom are hid all the 
treasures of wisdom and knowledge. J And in 
Him he will glory without end, for He is 
high above all nations, and His glory above 
the heavens. § 

* Wisd. ii. 8. f Ps. xxxv. 9. % Col. ii. 3. § Ps. cxii. 4. 


This wax also illuminates the house of our 
heart, and feeds in it the fire of divine charity. 
The wax of a retentive memory is understood 
by the candle : if so be there is a linen wick 
in it, that is, the exercise of spiritual labour ; 
and this is signified by the linen wick, made 
of flax, which is generally beaten out with 
much labour, so as to be brought to any 
usefiilness. If then we expend some labour 
in calling to our remembrance the Passion of 
Christ, we may have kindled and burning 
within us the charity of Him, who illuminates 
the darkness of our ignorance, and warms the 
coldness of our sluggishness, so that we also 
may be ready to suffer for Him and with 
Him, who suffered first for us. 

In this wax of our memory there ought to 
be honey, that is, delight in the recollection of 
the Cross ; for this is the sweetest honey.* 
What is there so bitter that cannot become 
sweet at the recollection of His lifegiving 
Passion ? We read that the Hebrews, when 
they went forth out of Egypt, came to some 
exceeding bitter water, such as none of them 
could so much as taste ; and yet when Moses 
♦ See above, p. 316. 


cast a tree into it, it was turned sweet,* so 
that they drank of it with delight. By the 
bitter water is evidently signified the bitter- 
ness of any adversity ; into which the tree of 
the Cross is cast, that is, when the Passion of 
our sweet Jesus is considered, and then all 
man's suflfering seems light in view of the 
Lord's suflfering, which He was pleased to 
endure for man, — He who is God and Man, 
the Mediator of God and Man, our Lord 

Again, it is /furi/ying honey . For, indeed, 
there is nothing which so purifies our thoughts 
from the assaults and defilement of all vices, 
so preserves them in purity, as the constant 
remembrance of the Cross and Passion of the 
Lord Jesus. 

It is also dear-droppit^ honey. + Because, 
contrary to the natural tendency of other 
liquids, in honey that which is clearest sinks 
down to the bottom, and the impurities rise 
up to the top. Now what is signified by this 
sinking down, but the virtue of humility? 
And this virtue is certainly acquired and 
preserved in the remembrance of our Lord's 
• Exod. XV. 25. t Descensivum. 


Passion; for no one can help being humbled, 
when he remembers how the Lord of glory 
was humbled for him. It would indeed be a 
shameful thing for man, dust and ashes as 
he is, by his own self-exaltation to rise up to 
that height, where the angel, most perfect in 
all knowledge and beauty,* could not remain, 
because he lacked humility. Let us therefore 
gather in the flowers of our Vine, the Lord 
Jesus, such remembrance and such delight 
as this; that ever keeping in memory the 
wounds of our Crucified One, we may find 
such delight in Him, who alone is sweet, 
that by Him we may overcome all the bitter- 
ness of this present life, may be purified 
from every sin, and in our good works may 
be continually preserved by the guard of 


* Ezech, xxviii. 12, 15. 


C&apter x\% 


IJT remains for us to declare, by the 
assistance of our sweet Jesus, why it 
is that all poisonous things are espe- 
cially driven away by the odour of the flowers 
of the vine. The signification of this is very 
soon discovered, if we recognise what serpents 
are figures of. Now what is said of serpents 
may be understood also of other poisonous 
reptiles. And by serpents what can we more 
clearly understand than diabolical sugges- 
tions ? Like serpents they glide unperceived 
through the minds of men, and then suddenly, 
if they are not recognised, they inflict deadly 
bites on the incautious. This we understand 
was prefigured by the children of Israel, who 


were miserably destroyed by serpents in the 
desert The Apostle gives the cause of this 
destruction, when he says : " Neither let us 
tempt God^ as some of them tempted Him^ and 
were destroyed by serpent s.^^ But what is to 
"tempt God?" Not to believe the Lord. 
For they were upbraided with the vice of 
unbelief, and therefore were slain by serpents. 
And what is the desert in which they were 
slain, but this world in which we are wander- 
ing now, having by Baptism passed over as 
it were the Red Sea, being delivered by our 
Lawgiver, the Lord Jesus, from the bondage 
of Egypt, by which before the grace of 
Baptism we were oppressed ? 

If, however, we were to consider the 
matter diligently, we should find that almost 
all vices arise from the vice of unbelief. 
For who would seek the vain glory of this 
world, if he perfectly believed that there was 
another to come, a glory in the heavens that 
fadeth not away, which eye hath not seen, 
nor ear heard, nor have jentered into the 
heart of man the things which are laid up 
for the humble? t Think you [if he perfectly 
♦ I Cor. X. 9. f I Cor. ii. 9. 

Y 2 


believed in this] that he would bend his mind 
to the glory of this world, so uncertain and 
transitory ? Never. But the assertions that 
such men make, that they believe God, pro- 
ceed from a kind of habit, because they see 
and hear almost all the world holding 
such a belief. But if the number of un- 
believers were to increase, and the Name of 
Christ could not be confessed without punish- 
ment or without fear ; then you would very 
quickly find these people openly saying with 
their tongues what they now hold in their 
hearts, and sCbjuring even in words Him, 
whom they now scruple not to deny by their 
deeds. It is the same with the avaricious, 
who care not for heavenly riches ; with the 
envious, who look not for the praise and 
reward of charity; with the irritable, who 
possess not their souls in patience ; with the 
idle, who refuse to undergo temporal toils for 
everlasting rest ; with the luxurious, who fix 
not the eyes of their mind on heavenly 
pleasures; and with the gluttonous, who 
prefer their earthly banquets to that most deli- 
cate Bread of angels. For if all these really 
believed in those good things to come that 


are promised, they would never pant so 
eagerly after earthly things. Hence, on 
account of their unbelief they are given 
over, not only to be wounded by temptation, 
but even to be slain by these fiery serpents 
with the injection of their poison — that is, by 
the demons who are ministers of that great 
and crooked serpent, the first deceiver ; who 
deceive them and turn them after themselves, 
and lead to everlasting burnings those whom 
in this life they corrupt with the burning of 
their evil suggestions. 

Let us now attend to the remedy, by 
which the vice of unbelief is corrected. The 
Lord said unto Moses : " Make a brazen 
serpent^ and set it up on a pole: whosoever 
shall look upon it shall be healed of the serpents' 
bites y^^ The mystery of this serpent the 
Lord Jesus Himself took care to explain, 
when He said: ^^ As Moses lifted up the 
serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man 
be lifted up; that whosoever believeih in Him 
may not perish^ \ Do you not see whither 

♦ Ligno ificto : Numb. xxi. 8. The text differs from 
the Vulgate, 
f S. John iii. 14, 15. 


we are brought ? At once to our kind Jesus 
lifted up on the Cross, who is most excellently 
compared to the serpent brazen and lifted 
up. For the serpent is called death-bearer, 
because by the suggestion of the serpent 
death entered into the world. It is brazen, 
because it is molten by the fires both of 
charity and suffering ; red with the Blood of 
the Passion ; and hardened like brass in the 
resurrection, because He dieth no more.* 
The lifting up of the [brazen] serpent is a 
figure of the lifting up of Jesus crucified. 
This is the serpent upon which unbelievers, 
wounded by the evil spirits, are admonished 
to look, and to be converted to belief if 
they would be saved. For this serpent has 
been transformed from Moses' rod.f By the 
rod< the mark of royalty, understand God : 
and by the serpent, at whose suggestion our 
first parents incurred death, understand 
mortal man. The rod was changed into a 
serpent, when t/ie Word was made fleshy 

* Rom. vi. 9. 

t The author combines the rod of Moses, in Exod, iv. 
2 — ^4, with the rod of Aaron, Exod. viii. 9 — 15, and jjos- 
sibly the blossoming rod in Numbers xvii. 8 with the 
brazen serpent : all these being types of Christ. 

THE, Brazen serpent, 3^7 

assuming that which He was not, yet remain- 
ing what He was, that is God. As, then, 
{the rod] which became a serpent devoured 
the serpents of the Egyptian magicians, so 
God made man brought to nought the sins 
and the deceits of the enemies who suggest 
them; especially, however, when He was 
lifted up upon the Cross, when He displayed 
the flowers of His Blood, when He poured 
forth through the whole world the odour of 
His flowers, in other words. His virtues, and 
healed hearts that were wounded by all 
kinds of vices. 

Let us, therefore, also look upon the Face 
of the brazen serpent lifted up, upon Christ, 
if we would be delivered from the serpent-like 
suggestions of the evil demons. To look 
upon Him is to tend towards Him by faith : 
and this is accomplished not by weak, but 
by strong and perfect faith. The former are 
those who confess with their mouth that 
they are Christians, but by their deeds deny 
it: and these I do not consider tend by 
faith towards our kind crucified Jesus. We 
may to some extent show this by a similitude. 
For [such] faith is like wine which has only 


the colour of wine, but is far from having 
the taste and strength of true wine. And 
I do not sincerely believe that wine of this 
description is' accepted by God, but [that 
He requires wine] such as is commended in 
the Canticle of Canticles, when the Bride- 
groom Himself says to the spouse : " 77iy 
throat is as the best wine,^^'"^ And she at 
once replies : " Worthy for my Beloved to 
drinks and for His lips and His teeth to 
ruminated \ And after a few other words, 
she says : ^^ I will give Thee a cup of spiced 
wine^ and new wine of my pomegranates.^^ J 
Behold what sort of wine will be pleasing to 
our Beloved, and what will inflame Him with 
love of us ! For the best wine is perfect 
faith, when the judgment of the heart and 
the confession of the mouth both agree 
together. And that which is added, ^^ I will 
give Thee spiced wine," is meant to indicate 
faith spiced and exercised with the good 
works of virtues. With such faith as this we 
tend and hasten towards our kind God, 
but not with faith feigned and destitute of 
works, without which faith is dead. Let us, 
♦ Cant. vii. 9. t ^^i<^' t Cant. viii. a. 


therefore, give to our Beloved, our kind God, 
the best wine of perfect faith, even wine 
flavoured with divers spices of virtues ; and 
so let us look upon the Face of Him who, 
after the likeness of the brazen serpent, hung 
upon the Cross for us. And as often as we 
find ourselves wounded by the bite of any 
serpent-like suggestion, let us run to the 
Cross, and approach to that, which was once 
the throne of the cross' shame, but now of 
the highest glory ; and looking by faith and 
hope and charity upon our most kind 
Deliverer, by the death of our Serpent, who 
destroyed the death of the old serpent, we 
tnay ask and be delivered from the serpents' 

Cliapter rftol 


||E have made a much more lengthy 
discourse than we expected on the 
flowers, and yet I trust our kind 
Jesus, the best Leader and Teacher, has been 
with us, both teaching and leading us. But 
now, with the aid of the same Jesus, who 
loves and directs His own even unto the end, 
in whose hand are both we and our words, let 
us bend our thoughts upon the fruit of this 
same Vine, who was to redeem the expense 
of the flowers with the profit of His fruits. 
For the knowledge of the fruit of our Vine is 
lifted up very high, and the slowness of our 
feeble understanding cannot raise itself up to 
it. In order, therefore, to cut short all pre- 


ambles, if we seek for fruit, first of all Re- 
demption is planted in the earth [which the 
Lord hath] blessed, in Mary, Virgin of virgins. 
That true Vine, our sweet Jesus, appeared in 
the Nativity, was pruned in His circumcision,* 
was dug round by the snares t [laid for Him 
by the Jews], was dug through by the Nails, J 
was bound by manifold bonds, § blossomed in 
His virtues, || bore fruit in His Passion, and 
redeemed man, whom it was not fitting to 
redeem in any other way. 

You may, however, say : ** How can He be 
said to have borne fruit in His Passion, when 
a little before He was said to have blossomed 
in His Passion ? Are blossoms and fruits, 
then, the same? Or, did the fruit succeed 
its blossom all at once without any interval 
of time ? We do not see that done in the 
natural order of things. For the blossoms 
come first, and an interval of some time in- 
tervenes, in order that the fruit may be brought 
to maturity." We acknowledge that this is 
true. But the subjects we have in hand are 
not merely human, they are also divine j and 

* Page 5. t Page 13. % Page 16. 

§ Chap. iv. II Chap. xvi. 


hence they do not follow in ever3rthing the 
natural order, but the natural order rather 
follows its own Creator. You will understand 
this more clearly, if you would diligently con- 
sider that in every kind of tree, when the fruit 
begins to form, the blossom falls and perishes. 
In the human race also, and in almost all 
living creatiures, the fruit destroys the flower 
of virginity. It was not so in the Nativity of 
our Vine. For His most blessed Mother 
brought forth her blessed Fruit without losing 
the flower of her virginity, yea, by that won- 
derful and most pure bringing-forth she was 
adorned with greater beauty. Where is the 
law, where the rights of natiure are done away ? 
It is then no great marvel if, without any in- 
terval of time, the flowers of our Vine do not 
perish, and yet its most wholesome fruit 
succeeds. His fairest Mother brought Him 
forth without losing her virgin flower, and He 
Himself brought forth the fruit of our Re- 
demption, without the fading of the flowers of 
His virtues. Neither is the accelerated ripe- 
ness of the fruit without its meaning. For it 
is well known that the ripeness of the fruit is 
accelerated or retarded in proportion to the 


increase or decrease of the heat. See, then, 
the greatness of the heat, nay of the burning 
[charity] in our kind suffering Jesus, and you 
will not wonder at the acceleration of the 
ripening of His fruit. Beyond comparison 
He burned with the fire of charity within and 
of suffering without, in order that He might 
without delay produce the fruit of our 
Redemption. That cluster of grapes was 
produced, which was so longed for by all the 
patriarchs and prophets and other just [men 
of old] — namely, our Redemption. And the 
Church, justly gathered not only out of those 
who lived in the time of grace, but out of all 
from the beginning of the world, congratu- 
lates herself on the sweetness of this fruit 
when she says of her Spouse in the Canticle 
of love : ^^ I sat down under the shadow of 
Him whom I desired: and His Fruit was sweet 
to my palate'^ * 

What wonder is it, if the Redemption of 
the just from the devil's tyranny, from dark- 
ness and the shadow of death, from the prison 
of Hades, where they were shut up and de- 
tained, their being brought back to Paradise, 
* Cant. ii. 3. 


and given in charge to the angels, — ^[if this 
were sweet]? \Vhat wonder is it that the 
presence of Christ was delightful and longed 
for, when He had been expected and desired 
for so long' a time? To those who are in 
afflicting circumstances, the coming of a 
deliverer is generally the more grateful, the 
longer the affliction has lasted. And for how 
long a time had Abel waited, the first of the 
just, the first martyr, the first who by his own 
suffering had prefigured his Deliverer ! How 
long had Adam himself, and Eve, our first 
parents — ^who even in Hades recalled to each 
other's memory the joys of Paradise — ^how 
long had they thirsted for that Redemption, 
together with other holy and just persons who 
hoped to be delivered ! With what bounds 
they must have leaped for joy when that 
Crucified One came, and the angels went 
before Him and shouted: ^^ Lift up your 
gates ^ O ye princes, and be ye lifted up, ye eter- 
nal gates, and t/ie King of Glory shall enter 
in /" * With what alacrity they must have 
sung together, and broken forth into univer- 
sal gladness in harmonious jubilees, and have 
* Ps. xxiii. 7. 


said : " Thou hast come, O long-desired One, 
for whom we waited in darkness, that Thou 
mightest lead out from the prisons them that 
are bound ! Our sighs cried out for Thee : 
our frequent lamentations required Thee. 
Thou hast become the hope of them that 
desire Thee : our grand consolation for ever ! " 
Oh how sweet was the fruit of Redemption 
to those who were in such long and bitter 
bondage ! 

This is the fruit of which the Spouse speaks 
in the Canticle of love : ** I saidy I will go up 
to the palm-treey and will take hold of the fruit 
tJiereof'^ " What is meant by * to the palm- 
tree ? ' To His Cross, one part of which is said 
to have been made of the palm-tree. For it is 
reported to have been composed of four kinds 
of trees : the cypress, the cedar, the olive, 
and the pahn ; — the cypress in its depth, the 
cedar in its length, the olive in its breadth, 
and the palm in its height. And hence the 
Apostle says : " That you may be able to com- 
prehendwith all the saints what is the breadth, 
and lengthy and height^ and depth A Now in 
the Cross that piece of wood which was fixed 
» Cant. vii. 8. f Eph. iii. 18. 


in the earth is called the depth ; and on this 
was the part that stood erect, to which the 
back of our Lord was applied when He was 
crucified, and which is the length of the Cross. 
The beam that was placed across this, and 
to which His Hands were fastened, is styled 
the breadth of the Cross. And that which 
was placed upon it by Pilate, on which His 
triumphal Title was written, is called the 
height. All these kinds of wood have also 
each their mystical meaning, according to 
their characteristics. The cypress signifies 
fear or humility, and there is the root of the 
Cross ; and humility is expressed not only by 
its humble position, but also by its nature ; 
for, it is said, the cypress drives away by its 
scent serpents, that is devils, whose proper 
character, pride, is driven away by the virtue 
of humility. The cedar^ a tree surpassing 
other trees in length, signifies the length of 
the Cross, that is perseverance, or patience. 
For it is esteemed for its natural strength, 
since it is very durable, and of a nature that 
it cannot be corrupted. The olive^ a tree that 
)delds oil, by which are signified the works of 
m^xcy^ typifies charity; and this tree has 


appropriately the breadth, of the Cross, be- 
cause charity is broad, and it is enjoined to 
be extended even to enemies. The pabiiy 
however, a tree symbolising victory, excel- 
lently signifies the height of the Cross, or 
that hope is to be had from above, and is 
not to be depressed into the depths. This 
tree has on it the triumphal Title written, in 
which the fruit of the Cross is found. For 
Christ was crucified in order that He might 
redeem man. And the word which says / 
will go up to the palm-tree^ by a part of the 
Cross signifies the whole Cross — and appro- 
priately by the palm, on which is found the 
Title, the sign of Redemption. 

But some one may say : " You were going 
to speak of the fruit of the vine, and you are 
speaking of the fruit of the palm-tree. What 
has the palm to do with the vine ? " To this 
I reply : " The palm-tree signifies the Cross : 
the vine Him who is crucified. Tell me, 
then, Is the fruit of the Cross different from 
that of the Crucified ? I think not. Then 
also is the fruit of the vine and of the palm 
one and the same." The Vine goes up to 
the palm-tree, takes hold of the fruit of the 


palm-tree, not that fruit which the palm-tree 
had of itself, but that of the Vine stretched 
out upon the palm-tree. Wherefore, then, 
does the Vine Himself say : ^^ I will take hold 
of the fruit thereof^' and not rather '* of my 
own fruit j" since the palm has fruit from 
the Vine, not the Vine from the palm ? I 
answer, Christ had not this fruit without the 
palm-tree, yea it was even by the palm, that 
is by the Cross ; for if Christ bad not been 
crucified. Redemption had not been secured. 
Therefore Christ took hold of the fruit of 
the Cross, that fruit which He Himself has 
wrought by the Cross. 

This cluster hath many grapes; namely, 
the fulfilment of Scripture, victory over the 
devil, the glory of the Resurrection, the won- 
derful exaltation of the Ascension, the sending 
of the gifts of the Holy Ghost. 

I. Of the fulfilment of Scripture our Lord 
Himself gives testimony, when He says to 
Peter : ''The Chalice which My Father hath 
given Me, shall I not drink it ?"* ''How then 
shall the Scriptures be fulfilled that so it must 
he done? "+ And in another place : "All things 

♦ S. John xviii. ii. f S, Matt. xxvi. 54. 


must needs be fulfilled^ which are written in 
the law, and in the prophets , and in the psalms 
concerning Me,^^ * 

2. The victory over the devil, although it 
might have been accomplished in another 
way, yet it was not fitting that it should in 
any other way [but this].t For he trifles 
greatly who imagines that the wisdom of our 
God and Lord ordered anything, but that 
which was most excellent. It was necessary 
that he, who had overcome man by the tree, 
should himself be overcome by man and by 
the tree ; " ut unde mors oriebatur, inde vita 
resurgeret; et qui in ligno vincebat, in ligno 
quoque vmceretur " — (that from whence death 
came, thence life might arise; and that he 
who overcame by the tree, might also by the 
tree be overcome). \ Now by this it is evi- 
dent that [this victory must be accomplished] 
by a Man who was God, and not by a simple 
man ; for all men were liable to sin, and no 
one could loose the bonds of others, who was 

* S. Luke xxiv. 44. 

t S. Anselm enters very fully into this question in his 
Cur Deus Homo, 
X Preface in Missa De Cruce, 
Z 1L 


not able to loose himself. But Christ the 
Mighty One,* who owed no debt to original 
sin, in that by a singular prerogative of birth 
He was conceived without carnal concupis- 
cence, and He who alone was ** free among the 
dead,*'\ alone could free the dead from death; 
as saith the Apostle : " He needeih fwt^ as the 
other priests^ to offer sacrifice for himself y first 
for his own sitis, and then for the people s,'^ \ 

If, however, it be inquired, wherefore God 
was pleased to deliver man by Himself rather 
than by any other creature, we may truly 
attribute this to His charity; and that He 
might commend this charity of His to us, He 
was not only incarnate, but He also died for 
us. § Moreover, by this He gave us a pattern 
of charity, that we should be ready, when 
necessity requires, to lay down our lives for 
our brethren, since we see our King hath laid 
down His life for us. || There is also still a 
further reasonable»cause wherefore we have 
been redeemed by our Lord : viz. that it 
would not have been fitting for us to be created 
anew by anyone else than by Him, by whom 

* Isa. ix. 6. f Ps. Ixxxvii. 6. J Heb. vii. 27. 
§ Rom. V. 8, 9. II i.S. John iii. i6. 


we were created first. .For our new creation, 
as we have often remarked above, excites us 
to charity, even more than our original crea- 
tion. If, then, we had been created anew by 
another than Him, by whom we were origin- 
ally created, we should have owed more to 
our regenerator than to our Creator ; and so 
should have loved a creature more than the 
Creator,* and this would have been wholly out 
of order. Hence, that He might stir us up 
to love Him with all our heart, with all our 
soul, and with all our strength, our most good 
God hath bestowed upon us all that He 
could in creating, and creating us anew, and 
in the bestowal of His benefits no stranger 
hath a part. 

Let us, therefore, with all our desires em- 
brace the fruit of our Redemption, and let us 
often, nay without ceasing, call it to remem- 
brance, and with the tongue of our under- 
standing taste the sweetness that is hidden in 
that fruit ; and let us store up in the vessel 
of our memory the unadulterated blood of 
this grape, — the Blood, I say, of our ruddy 
Jesus. For He is made unto us Redemption,t 
♦ Rom. i, 25. t I Cor. i. 30. 


because by Him we are saved and delivered. 
By these flowers, and by this fruit, wherewith 
she has been redeemed from the devil's 
tyranny, the faithful soul is to be refreshed 
continually, that she may not faint in this 
weary wilderness, where she labours with- 
out rest and without respite, sighing after 
that land flowing with milk and honey, and 
crying out with the spouse : " Stay me up 
with flowers, compass me about with apples: 
because I languish with love.^^- * She is not 
ignorant of the nature and the dignity of the 
fruit of her Vine, the Tree of life, Jesus 
Christ. For sometimes she strews the bed 
of her conscience with the flowers of the vir- 
tues and of the Passion of her Spouse, and 
she cries out to Him in the same Canticle 
of love: ^^ Lectulus noster floridus, — Our bed 
is flowery, \ — floavery, not with any other 
flowers but Thine, O sweet Jesus ! Come, 
then, and acknowledge Thine own flowers : 
repose in the bed adorned with Thine own 
flowers ! " With those flowers the spouse asks 
to be " stayed up " by the friends of the Bride- 
groom,! the preachers of the Word of God. 

* Cant. ii. 5. + Cant. i. 15. J S. John iii. 29. 


For she knows what virtue they have, what 
effects they work in her, — these flowers called 
to remembrance by the ministry of the Word; 
how they strengthen her in the temptations 
and perils of this life, and how they inflame 
her desire after the heavenly country. And I 
doubt not but that same spouse has been in- 
troduced sometimes into the Garden of the 
Holy Scriptures of her Bridegroom, where 
doubtless she has found the Tree of life, the 
true Vine, whose fruit she takes hold of 
eagerly, turning it over and over in her mind, 
and considering diligently and with clearness 
of perception what precious fruit it is that she 
has obtained from the ardour of her Beloved, 
yea from her Beloved Himself. Such an one 
infallibly feels how much love she owes to 
Him, how much comfort and strength to over- 
come all dangers she must surely derive from 
that most fruitful spiritual draught, which 
she has drawn from that much-loved Tree. 
Hence it is, that she longs oftentimes to 
call to remembrance these flowers, and this 
fruit : because she prays to be stayed up with 
the flowers that she may not fall, and to be 
compassed about with the fruit that she may 


not be moved. For she knows what virtue 
they have, — the odour of those flowers, and 
the savour of this fruit. 

Now that which she adds, " because I lan- 
guish with lavej^ is nothing else than that 
the spouse, inflamed with desire after the 
heavenly country, does not brook a long 
delay. And hence, in the same strain, she 
says : ** O daugJiters of yenisalem^ tell my 
Beloved^ t/iat I afn sick witfi loveJ*^ * What is 
that love so strong, and yet bringing on sick- 
ness ? Is it not the love of which it is written : 
" Love is strong as death ^ " t What sort of 
strength is this, which brings on weakness ? 
Let those reply, who have read the solution 
of this question in the book of experience. 
I said *of experience.* And why not *of 
wisdom,' which has its name from savour?! 
They, then, who have read in the book of wis- 
dom — that is, they who have experienced the 
interior flavour, — ^let them tell and teach us 
what that love is, which, while it is strong as 
death, yet makes lovers sick even to death : 
for by the death of this body, and not before, 
they are healed. They may indeed, in the 
* Cant. V. 8. f Cant. viii. 6. % Safientia,—a sapore^ 


meantime, — while they remain in this mortal 
life, or rather in this living death, — by the 
flowers and fruits of their Beloved and their 
desired One, they may be consoled, but not 
satisfied ; until the day cometh for which they 
long with the Prophet, saying : "/ shall he 
satisfied when Thy glory shall appear'^ * And 
in another place : " Thou shall fill me with 
joy with Thy coimteiiance : at Thy right hand 
are delights even to the end'^ \ Of this * right 
hand ' it is elsewhere written : ^^His left hand 
is under my head, and His right hand shall 
embrace meJ^ \ And see how admirably this 
authority agrees with what went before. The 
left hand of the Beloved expresses the remem- 
brance of His love, greater than which is 
none, for by it He laid down His life for 
His friends. § In the right hand is seen the 
beatific vision of God, which He has pro- 
mised to His friends, and joy in the presence 
of the Divine Majesty. That visiQn of God 
which alsomakethdivine,!! that incomparable 
love of the divine presence, well deserves to 

* Ps. xvi. 15. t Ps. XV. II. 

X Cant. ii. 6. § S. John xv. 13. 

II Deifica. See a S, Pet. i. 4; and i S. John iii. 2. 


be attributed to the right hand, of which it 
is delightfully sung, "^ Thy right hand arc 
delights even to the endJ* That love of remem- 
brance, and always to be remembered, is well 
assigned to the left hand : that upon it the 
spouse may lean and repose, until iniquity 
shall pass away. Well, therefore, is the left 
hand of the Bridegroom under the spouse's 
head, so that upon it her head may lean and 
be sustained, — in other words, that she may 
have the intention of her mind bent upon it, 
that she may not incline to carnal and worldly 
desires ; for the corruptible body is a load 
upon the soul, and. the earthly habitation 
presseth down the mind that museth upon 
many things.* Hence the same thing is 
signified by the flowers and the fruit of our 
Vine, and by the left Hand of the same 
Spouse j but the healing of our sickness by 
His right Hand. 

They who have placed their hope and con- 
fidence in no fading thin^, seek to be stayed 
up with these flowers and fruit of our Vine, 
and glory in not being sustained by any 
other love. But that soul alone, who is sick 
* Wisd. ix. 15. 


of bodily and worldly cares for love and 
desire of her Beloved, — ^yea, and even dies 
of this love — she it is to whom is said : 
** Who is this that conidh up from the 
desert^ flowing with delights, leaning upon 
her Beloved V '•• From the desert of this 
world she goeth up, who hath bound her 
heart with the Heart of her Beloved in the 
bonds of that love, seeking those things 
which are above, not those which are upon 
the earth. + And hence she is flowing with 
the delights of virtues, being anointed as with 
ointment of divers spices, which she has 
gathered from the Paradise of her Beloved, 
following Him who suffered for her and left 
her an example. | Hence it is also well said, 
** Leaning upon her Beloved;^' not upon man, 
for '* Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, 
and maketh flesh his arrnf^ nor upon any 
earthly things, for these she counteth all as 
dung, that she may gain Christ. II Therefore 
such a soul, — which now is stayed up with 
the flowers and fruit of the true Vine her 
Spouse, which now is sick even to death for 

* Cant. viii. 5. f Col. iii. i, 2. J i S. Pet. ii. 21. 
§ Jer. xvii. 5. || Philipp. iii. 8. 


love of Him, sscymg with holy Job : ^^I have 
dofie with hope, I shall now live no longer/'^ 
— such a soul, I say, will merit hereafter to 
be embraced in an ineffable manner by the 
most sweet right Hand of her Spouse, and to 
be satiated with the fruit of everiasting glad- 
ness, when her sickness will not only be 
healed, but also increased. For the sickness 
of her intolerable desire will be healed by 
the most glad fruition of her Beloved whom 
she desired, and yet that same desire will not 
be taken away, yea, it will be increased. Only 
then it will be no longer sickness, but the 
absence of weariness, when the longing shall 
be fully satiated with the longed-for Object ; 
and the satiated one shall learn in satiety to 
long still, and desire shall generate satiety, 
and satiety shall bring forth desire by a mu- 
tual generation which shall never end, and 
which cannot be explained. But let us now 
return to our grapes. 

3. There is a third grape in the cluster of 

our Redemption, the Resurrection of our 

Lord. And who can unfold the amount of 

sweetness that this grape had, and has still ? 

♦ Job vii. i6. 


Let a man lay up, if anyone can, in his 
heart the unspeakable greatness of His most 
blessed and most sad Passion. ]Let him see 
with what desperation of grief were stricken 
the hearts of those lovers of the suflfering 
Jesus. Let him behold the lamentations of 
those faithful women who forsook not our 
sweetest Jesus on His way to the place of His 
Passion, when He carried His own Cross, 
and when He breathed out His most sweet 
SouL Let him especially look upon her, — 
then a weak Woman gazing, now the empress 
of the world, — the Mother of our Lord, how 
sharp a sword of sorrow pierced through her 
soul ! Let him see the whole fabric of the 
world sympathising with its Creator, and 
shrouded in black darkness. Let him be- . 
hold, I say, these things, and then add on to 
this mighty tempest the calm serenity of the 
Third Day, and the unhoped-for gladness of 
the most glad Resurrection; and let him 
think over more at length, with what exceed- 
ing joy they received their Lord rising again 
from the dead, whom they had seen dying 
with such intense sadness. See with what 
delight He hath, in His Resurrection, recom- 


pensed the disciples for that sadness of theirs 
at the most holy Supper of His last eating 
with them, at which He said : "/ will not 
drink from henceforth of this fruit of the vine, 
until that day when I shall drink it new with 
you'^ ♦ Behold, the true Vine hath now risen 
again in glory, and He eateth and drinketh 
with the same disciples, doubtless with the 
greatest joy, and to some who doubted He 
offered Himself to be both seen and handled ! 
And let not anyone imagine that He rose 
again for the joy of the disciples only. Yea, 
for us also and for the whole world He rose 
again, and pronounced those blessed, who 
though they do not see, yet believet that He 
suffered for our sins and rose again for our 
justification. By this we are taught, that if 
we shall be partakers in the suffering, we 
shall be also in His resurrection ; % and that 
we may not doubt that our mortal bodies 
shall be raised in the glory of the resurrection, 
since we believe that our Head hath risen 
again, who was condemned to the most shame- 
ful death. ** For as in Adam all die, so also 

* Si Matti xxvi. 29. f S. John xx. 29. 

t Rom. vi. 5. 

ioy OF THE Ascension, 35 1 

in Christ all shall be made alive"'' For 
Christ, the firstfruits of them that sleep [hath 
risen first] ; then they that are of Christ, at 
His coming, + and after the example of Christ 
rising again, they also shall rise again to glory 
never more to die. 

4. The Ascension is also another grape in 
the cluster of the Redemption wrought by the 
Passion. It is a sweet grape, containing in 
itself a vast store of sweetness, causing joy 
both in heaven and on earth. For who can 
doubt that great joy was caused to the disci- 
ples, when they saw Him penetrating as Man 
into the heavenly places ? They stood gazing 
up into heaven with both mind and heart, 
and they could not contain the joy of their 
souls j but with the voice of jubilee they con- 
gratulated their Lord on His way4 Without 
a doubt heaven also rejoiced ; all the choirs 
of angels came to meet their Lord empurpled 
with the state-robe of our flesh, and with the 
loftiest praises welcomed the supreme Con* 
queror. If at the coming of a single just 
man or martyr all the augdic choir rejoices, 

* I Cor. XV. 22. t Ibid. v. 23. 

X S. Luke xxiv. 52, 53. 


how exceedingly must the spirits of all the 
angel ranks have exulted at the coming of 
their own special Emperor? Irian's under- 
standing fails before the magnificence of this 
praise and joy. Nevertheless, we also may 
rejoice, and wonder as we call to mind the 
sweetness of this grape ; in loving contempla- 
tion we may suck its juice, and rejoice in the 
Holy Ghost for that a portion of our flesh is, 
in our sweetest Lord, seated on high in the 
supreme throne of the most Holy Trinity. 
And we too may strain our minds, as far as 
we can, after Him and in Him, supplicating 
Him m^the spirit of humility that He would 
deign to draw us after Him, that we may run 
in the odour of His ointments,* and may 
deserve to be brought in to that cellar of 
wine,f that supreme store-room of spices, that 
inner Holy of Holies, whither Christ Himself, 
our Head, is gone before. 

5. The fifth grape of our cluster is the 
Mission of the Holy Ghost Who can ade- 
quately explain the most delightfiil wine of 
this grape ? Wine, I say, and, if you like it 
better, new wine. For no sooner had the 
♦ Cant. i. 3. f Cant. ii. 4. 


Holy Ghost been received by the Apostles, 
and by those who with them were waiting for 
Him, than they were inebriated, and they 
conceived a good word, and spake in divers 
tongues the wonderful works of God.* Be- 
fore, they hid themselves for fear : now, they 
ran out abroad. They no longer feared the 
many waters of the raging populace, for they 
were burning with the fire of charity. Then, 
for certain, did they experience the truth of 
that which is written : " Many waters cannot 
quench charity^ neither can thefidgds drown //."t 
For the floods of the powers [of evil] arose 
against them, the waters of multifddes of 
people came in torrents, the winds and storms 
of threatening words blew; and yet the fire 
of charity was not quenched, yea, it was 
even augmented. The Apostles " went from 
the presence of the Council^ rejoicing that they 
were accounted worthy to suffer reproach for the 
name ofyesusTX The fire of charity was aug- 
mented, for many more were set on fire by 
their preaching, and burned with the same 
gladness which consumed them. But what 
said the Jews who disbelieved all these good 
* Acts ii. 4, II. f Cant. viii. 7. \ Acts v, 4»x.. 

354 17775 hfYSTICA, 

things ? They said : " These men are. full of 
new wine,'' * liars and ignorant as they 
were, yet they said the trnth. For they were 
filled H-ith that most noble wine of the charity 
of God, — ^yea, with God who is charity, — ^in- 
flaming them to love and fortifying them 
against fear. And hence, as new wine does 
not allow itself to be confined in a vessel, 
unless it has a vent by which it can burst 
forth, so [in bursting forth] from these men's 
hearts through their mouths the new wine of 
the Holy Ghost manifested itself, as they 
spake with marvellous eloquence the wonder- 
ful works of God. The draught of this new 
wine, far fi-om checking, only stimulated their 
tongues ; that that verse of the poet might 
be found true : — 

" Foecundi calices quem non fecere disertum?"f 
(Whom has not the fruitful bowl made eloquent ?) 

The fruitful and glorious Chalice of the 
Lord has indeed inebriated them ; since, as 
the Apostle says : ** The charity of God is 
poured forth in their hearts, " J But our words 
seem to be contradicted by the words of 
S. Peter, who was made so bold with a 
* Acts ii. 13. ir Hoi.» lib. i, Epist. 5. % Rona. v. 5. 


draught of this new wine, that now he no 
longer feared, not merely any words of any 
woman, as before, but not even the words of 
princes. He put himself forward in the midst 
of the crowd, and said^ that the disciples were 
not drunk with wine. But let us hear his own 
words distinct and clear : " For these men^^ 
he says, ^'' are not drunken, as you suppose'^ * 
For they are not drunken with new wine of 
earth, as you thmk, but with the Spirit from 
heaven. Let us also, beloved, draw deep 
draughts of the most glad wine of this grape. 
Even if we have not wherein to draw,f viz. 
a vessel of understanding, let us run with 
full confidence to our provident and only 
Creator, whose workmanship we are, and let 
us pray Him to form in our soul a vessel 
capable of holding this most sweet new wine j 
so that, receiving our Consoler, the seven- 
fold Spirit of grace, we may escape the mani- 
fold snares of our adversary, the tempter ; 
and may put the feet of our affections into 
the fetters of wisdom, \ so that, being bound 
in the bond of charity with Wisdom Herself, 
we may unceasingly and unweariedly run after 
* Acts ii. 15. t S. John iv. 11. % Ecclus. vi. 25. 


her, until we attain to the fulness of her 
savour ; and there no longer through a glass 
and in a dark manner, but face to face, we 
shall see our King in His beauty,* and know 
even as we are known. + 

Here, I think, we ought to notice that the 
fruit of our Vine is both eaten and drunk. 
For the grape is chewed, but the wine which 
is contained in the grape is drunk : and there 
is pleasure in both ; but in the wine, both the 
pleasiure and the utility are of longer duration : 
and this seems to me to appertain to the 
enjoyment of this cluster of which we have 
spoken. For in the life that now is, we chew 
these grapes, when we discuss with the teeth 
of our understanding the delight and utility 
of our Redemption ; when we turn over in 
the consideration of our hearts the power of 
the Resurrection, the glory of the Ascension, 
and the utility of the coming of the Holy 
Ghost, as grapes in the mouth, and from 
these sometimes there comes a certain glad- 
ness in our heart. But this gladness shall be 
full, when time or the change of times shall 
have ceased, — when we shall no longer eat 

* Isa. xxxiii. 17. f i Cor. xiii. 12. 


these things, but drink them, and obtain from 
them an everlasting gladness beyond all price* 
For in eating there is a certain labour ; but 
that which is drunk, is taken in without 
trouble. And hence in eating the delight, 
whatever it may be, of whatever kind, or 
however great, is not perceived without the 
body ; but this body is always a load upon 
the soul.* But by draughts, quaffed without 
trouble, are signified the joys of that place 
and of that time, in which there shall be no 
longer any more mourning, nor crying, nor 
any sorrow, for all these shall have passed 
away.f And He who standeth fast from eter- 
nity, — ^who for us, that we might not pass away 
as a shadow, t became as one that passeth 
away,§ — He shall minister to us|| [this new 
wine]. There, no longer with labour and fear 
and the hindrance of the body of this death 
shall we eat^ but with great delight we shall 
drink the wine of our Redemption. And such 
shall be the nature oi that noble wine, that 
the more we drink, although we shall be 
satisfied, yet the more we shall thirst,^ won- 

♦ Wisd. ix. 15. f Apoc. xxi. 4. J Job xiv. 2. 
§ Jerem. xiv. 8. || S. Luke xii. 37. ^ Ecclus. xxiv. aq. 
A X 2 


d^ing at and praising without end and with- 
out intermission the marvellous goodness of -^^ 
our Redeemer, which He was pleased to show 
towards us in the fruit of our Redemption. 

See now if this difference between eating 
and drinking be not set forth to us in words 
of the Spouse in the Canticle of love, where • i: 
He says : ** Eat, O friends, and drink, and be pirs??J^^ 
inebriated, my dearly beloved,'' * He first ex- ^ ''^ 
horts us to eat, and this indeed belongs to the 
life that now is, in which, as we have said, 
contemplation is mingled with the labour of 
action. But in the life to come, which has 
no action, we shall thoroughly enjoy delights 
as from a wine-cup, for we shall drink and 
be inebriated with the abundance of the 
bouse of God, and drink of the torrent of His 1 

pleasures.! Then shall we recognize clearly I 

how exceeding dear we are to our King and 
Spouse ; when all the water of labour and ' 

earthly activity shall be changed into the wine 
of divine contemplation, and all the water- 
pots shall be filled even up to the brim. For 
all shall be filled with the good things of the 
house of the Lord, when those longed-for 

* Cant. V. I. f Ps. XXXV. 9. 


nuptials of Christ and His Spouse the Uni- 
versal Church shall be celebrated ; and we 
shall drink in supreme gladness of heart, and 
all shall cry aloud to the Lord, and say: 
" Thou hast kept the good wine until n&w,^** 
However, we admit that this gladness is 
also signified by eating, since it is written : 
" that you may eat and drink at My Table 
in My Kingdom; " t although the explanation 
of the authority above mentioned may be 
extended also to this passage. 

If anyone asserts that it would be an un- 
worthy thing, if so great a Vine, so laborious 
and so laboriously cultivated, should produce 
only one cluster of grapes; such an one 
may, if he will, call those clusters which 
we have called grapes, and add to each of 
them a multitude of grapes. Nevertheless, 
we may with reason find even here innumer- 
able clusters on our Vine, if we choose to look 
at all the churches, all the monasteries, all the 
congregations that there are in the Universal 
Church. Who has produced these clusters, but 
our Vine? For Christ and His Church are one 
Vine, as they are one Body. Each congrega-i 
* S. John ii. 7, 10. f S. Luke xxii. 3a 


ttoa is a particular cluster. And the grapes 
express the individuality of the persons com- 
posing these congregations; and not inappro- 
priately, as it appears to me. For by the out- 
side skin of the grape is expressed the body; 
by the pulp, the bones ; and by the juice is 
figured the soul, or the blood, which is the seat 
of the soul. At a man's death his soul is forced 
out of his body, as the wine is pressed out of 
the skin ; and if it be found worthy, it is 
conveyed into the royal cellar of the heavenly 
Paradise, that it may be a joy to the heavenly 
King and to His guests, the blessed ones, 
who are called and who have come to the 
nuptiils of the Lamb. * For the Spouse Him- 
self also drinketh His own wine of His Vine 
and His vineyard, the Church, of which He 
is Himself the Head. He drinketh also Him- 
self of the most pure blood of grapes : in 
other words, the souls of Saints pressed out 
and separated/rom their bodies in the wine- 
press of the Cross, in labour and thirst, in cold 
and nakedness, in many vigils and in other 
spiritual exercises. He shall drink these, that 
is, He shall delightfully incorporate them into 

• Apex:, xix. 9. 


Himself, and bring it to pass that, being made 
one Spirit with Him, they shall with Him 
and in Him from henceforth rest from all 
their labours.* Let them fear and take heed 
to themselves, those rotten grapes — I mean 
false brethren, perverse Christians — who 
have within them, not wine but poison, who 
refuse to be pressed in the winepress of the 
Cross, and are not in the labour of men.f 
Let them take heed, while there is time, that 
they be not cast forth to the swine, that is 
to the devils, to be devoured ; for into the 
King^s wine-cellar there is no way save 
through the winepress of the Cross. 

There was something left for lis to say on 
the second crop of flowers on our Vine, and 
on their fruits, according to that which is 
written : " And 7ny flesh hathflmvercd again — 
et refloruit caro mea^^X and this no one can 
doubt is spoken of the Resurrection, the fruit 
of which will be the glory of the second 
resurrection. But we had rather leave our 
reader thirsty than wearied, and so we put a stop 
to this discourse; being ready to amend it, to 

* Apoc. xiv. 13. t Ps. Ixxii. 5. % Ps. xxvii. 7. 



cut off from it, and to alter it, if in any part 
we have said anything contrary to faith, and 
contrary to the Holy Scriptures. And in all 
things we humbly render thanks to Him, who 
by His gratuitous grace hath taught us, who 
openeth the mouth of the dumb, and maketh 
eloquent the tongues of infants, to whose 
Name we consecrate anew the beginning and 
the end of this little work, even our most good 
and most sweet Jesus. Amen. 



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